They varied in age, size, and attitude. So did the men. There were twelve men, one huge dumptruck, two bobcat loaders, a roller, two pickups with trailers to carry the bobcats and roller, and the huge paving machine itself, like something out of Hieronymus Bosch, or at least Dante’s Inferno. The dumptruck fed lumpy black chunks into the paver and a smooth, black, steaming driveway appeared beneath and emerged behind it. Men not running the machines tended the edges with shovels and strange long-handled tools. There was a burnt reek in the air.
They had already ripped up the old, crumbly asphalt from the driveway, laid down gravel, and rolled out a first layer of new pavement while I was busy elsewhere. The lavender and thyme once draped so gracefully over the edge of the asphalt, softening it, were cut back, prepped for surgery. Now I was here to watch the final layer go on.
The men and the trucks worked together seamlessly, and wordlessly for the most part, since the machinery made enough noise for all participants. My cat had already lit out for a quieter territory, but I was sure if my grandson were here he’d be fascinated by the whole thing. My kids, at that age, would have wanted to get out in the middle of it, directing traffic. I was fascinated by it myself.
Because this is truly human stuff: how we have extended our puny strength to rock-moving, road-building proportions. True, this has led us to some big mess-ups on our planet. But we can imagine and follow a plan of both brute force and intricacy, moving tonnage while placing 45-degree bevelled edges exactly where the lavender and thyme stop. Maybe we can learn to fix our planetary mess-ups. How many have to agree before we can start?