By T. R. Robertson
During my afternoon commute today I spied a great blue heron—seldom seen in the middle of my city, it was flying down the center of Grindstone Creek. It passed under a bridge as the bus passed over. I violated the bus riders’ rules and shuffled quickly to a seat on the opposite side, where I was able to glimpse the heron continuing its journey, broad wings beating the air as though in slow motion.
Sitting Back to Enjoy the View
I’m an infrequent bus rider—much less than I’d like. Mathematically it’s cheaper to ride than to drive. Pragmatically I prefer getting home from work in 10 minutes by car rather than the 45 minutes it can take by bus.
The bus always calls me back, though, offering a luxury I miss when I’m behind the wheel. Behind the wheel of my car during rush hour, my attention is on the road and on the traffic around me. Drivers (including me) are constantly jockeying for position, angling to beat the next stoplight. There’s no time for rubbernecking at blue herons.
With a trained bus driver as my personal chauffeur, however, I can afford the luxury of watching out the windows at the world God has placed along the #6 route.
My favorite part of the ride is when the bus trundles through a rock cut and across the south fork of Grindstone Creek. The rock cut, matched towering walls of exposed rock on each side of the road, reminds me of when I was a boy and had the pleasure of leisurely watching the world go by as a backseat nondriver. In those days the highway heading south from my hometown featured miles of rock cuts along the highways, like the walls of Red Sea water on either side of the children of Israel. I was impressed with God for having parted the rolling hills in such a magnificent way, perfectly suited for threading highways.
God & Human Handiwork
When the highway department began blasting through a hill near my home, I realized the rock cuts were man-made. I was impressed even more that human engineers could make something so beautiful from God’s own creation. The rock cut and bridge along Grindstone Creek provide a great display of God’s handiwork side by side with that of human creativity.
The acres around the creek are heavily forested with old growth trees, clustered together in a random pattern no human landscaper would willingly design. Just a block away are retail stores and a housing complex, all surrounded by newly planted trees and carefully chosen ground cover, strategically placed to provide faux-natural ambience.
The bridge over the creek is bound on both sides by sturdy ornamental safety railings, forged from steel that people have mined and refined from the earth. Some days I see young people from the housing complex on the bridge’s walkway, leaning on the railing and enjoying the view of the creek, threading its way through the woods.
As the seasons change, the view of the creek from my bus shifts from the dappled green of summer to an outburst of autumn colors drifting down to float on the water. In the dead of this past winter, I marveled at the crystalline world formed by the ice coating the trees, the cut bluffs, and the bridge railings above the frozen creek.
And then the bus rolled on.
T. R. Robertson is a freelance writer in Columbia, Missouri.