Back roads, (blue highways or blue roads as they are sometimes called here in the South), may well be the forgotten backbone of America.
Longleaf pines flanked the black and yellow ribbon of asphalt that rambled through the North Carolina countryside. Alongside the tufted pines, maple trees were hard at work to display their autumn reds, and hickories boasted leaves of yellow, orange and brown. Completing the landscape was a smattering of houses, old and new, seeking seclusion and respite under nature’s canopy.
A diamond-shaped yellow sign with intersecting black lines warned that change was ahead. A state highway interrupted the peace and slow pace of the back road. For the moment, this bustling artery seemed to tolerate the mingling of old world ways with modern conveniences.
I surveyed a broken-down shanty standing listlessly on the corner of the busy intersection. Attached to the saggy, white clapboard structure was a three-foot high, fifteen-foot long building with four large windows and a rickety screen door on the side.
An old chicken coop, I surmised.
“That looks like an old chicken coop,” I mused aloud to my sister.
There was silence as I studied the low, simple structure some more. “But how did the farmer gather the eggs?” I questioned, envisioning the farmer crawling through the coop on his belly and scooping up eggs as he went along.
My sister glanced over and replied with a note of exasperation, “The windows have latches.”
“Oh! Of course!” I exclaimed, seeing the clasps for the first time. The windows pulled down and the farmer reached in to fetch the eggs, easy as pie.
My sister sighed. “Why do I always have to be the smart one?”
I cackled with amusement as we passed over the state highway and continued to follow the blue road … to our favorite Starbucks coffeehouse.