A Monologue with the Æther

Illinois Ennui

Tall yellowing stalks of corn, heavy with ripening ears, rose above me into the sky. Between the nearly interminable fields of corn lay the fields of squat dark green soybean plants. A patchwork two-tone quilt of worked land. Viewed from above, it must surely spell out MONOTONY.

The air, heavy with the oppressive heat of humidity stirred not once. The sun blazing overhead as if it were always mid afternoon. The road cracked, pitted, and uneven ran almost flat and straight its entire length. For four days, I rode my laden bicycle through this space.

Over the evenly spaced breaks, in the glaring asphalt road, my wheels crossed with a, “THUD-ump, THUD-ump — THUD-ump, THUD-ump — THUD-ump, THUD-ump.”

It’s a wonder that I am not now sitting in some padded room, wearing a coat with too long sleeves babbling to myself in some corner, “THUD-ump, THUD-ump — THUD-ump, THUD-ump — THUD-ump, THUD-ump.”

Four days, four hundred miles of broken road, corn and soybean fields with only long haul semi-trucks for company. But all was not despair, for every twenty miles or so hidden by a bend in the road a small town would suddenly appear filled with trees and buildings and people. The towns ended too soon leading back to the fields and the road torture.

Jarred and shaken endlessly in the saddle, my mind started to look back fondly on the long slow steep climbs, in the central Appalachia, up and over mountain after mountain for days on end even though at the time I cursed both the mountains and the crazed sadistic road builders.

Everyday that I spent on that road central Illinois became my personal vision of hell. I developed a great empathy for Sisyphus, his hill and his boulder.

“Oh God,” I wondered often aloud, “will this never end?”

When late one afternoon I passed through a town on the other side of which were no more fields. Rather, a long wide slow river moving masses of water languidly southward. I rolled across a bridge stopping in center span to stare down into the much fabled, Mississippi. I cheered.

With renewed vigor, I crossed that bridge leaving behind Illinois, going into a place of new horizons and difficulties which might make illinois seem pleasant by comparison. But still it was a new adventure into untried territory unknown, unexplored, not yet defined, Iowa.