Before, I drove sixty miles across rolling prairie to work. My eyes watched for deer, much more of a danger than other cars. Often I was the only one on the road for long stretches, and my mind wandered. To the details of the landscape, to the podcasts or audiobook that kept me company, to the day’s teaching plans. So often inspiration would strike, and I’d discover an essential piece I didn’t even know was missing from my plan. The last activity should come first, I’d realize. Or I’d recall just the right poem for our quickwrite. Or I’d formulate an essential question that would somehow tie several weeks of work together. I arrived at work refreshed from the sunrise, the meadowlark, the pronghorn, and energized from the revelations about the day’s lesson plan.
Soon, I will drive seven miles south and west on city streets to work. I haven’t made the drive enough yet to know the quickest route, which sequence of turns will cut down on the stoplights and stop signs and get me there a few seconds faster. On prairie highways, seven miles take seven minutes, but in the city, it’s more than twice that. In fifteen or eighteen minutes, the day’s plan doesn’t have much time to percolate and reveal its missing pieces. I will brake for potholes and community cats rather than deer. If I leave early enough, perhaps I’ll spot a raccoon or an opossum. My mind will wander, but I’ll pull it back to the task at hand because city driving demands attention. The sun will rise in my rearview mirror. Eventually, I will catch a glimpse of the river and Canada across it to the south.