There are several roads here in Salem which, if you follow them east, lead into the country toward the Cascade foothills. They are scenic and appealing, but extend only fifteen miles or so, until they run into a two-lane north-south highway that moves traffic between the small towns on that side of the valley. Along the way, there are farmhouses and barns, grass seed fields, iris fields, berries, apples, onions, filberts, various flowers being grown for seed, poplars, oaks, firs, railroad crossings, wooden fences, fruit stands, country churches, and tiny cemeteries. Because of the rolling landscape, the roads don�t keep a straight line. Instead of going through, they go around.

Several years ago, I had the idea for a miniature journey. Over the course of an entire summer, I would follow one of these roads, visit its natural and historical landmarks, jot down my impressions, and possibly even take pictures. At the same time, I would stop at each house along the way and talk to the inhabitants. I would visit with men and women working in the fields, admire their animals and tractors, and inquire about their methods and crops. Because of my own considerable farming experience, they would quickly realize I am not a city-slicker, or merely a nut on a self-indulgent lark. They would know I�m a nut, of course, but the right kind of nut � a nut who understands farming and the gamble involved.

The beauty of this travel plan is that the destination is here in my backyard. After each day�s sojourn, all I would need to do is mark the spot, then turn around and come home. Then the next day I would continue, and the day after that and the day after that, until I reached the end of the road. In fact, the idea is so simple that I am surprised I have never acted on it. What�s keeping me? What�s holding me back?

The answer is, I am busy � busy living, busy writing, busy with family concerns. I am already working on a book, called Songs and Letters, and am occupied with seeing others into print. I rise each day long before dawn, but most days still aren�t long enough to include a journey of the nature I have described. And so the journey remains an idea � an idea that is obliged to travel with me on my own journey, along with several other ideas that also must wait their turn � journeys within a journey, so to speak. And even these journeys are shaded by past journeys, some of them over the long, straight, narrow country roads of my youth, roads that finally die of exhaustion after traversing dozens and dozens of miles of irrigated desert land that was once part of a great inland sea, in a place now called the San Joaquin Valley.

Though I�ve never made it a secret, I will confess here that the word �road� is sacred to me, and full of profound meaning. I believe it is so for many. Roads are often a means of escape, but in a larger, more mysterious sense they are also wrapped up in our destinies. Life is a road. While we are here, don�t we owe it to ourselves to stop, look, listen?

June 29, 2005

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Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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