Popular Posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

Memories by the Mile

I like old trucks. The manufacturer doesn't seem to matter much, just the fact that it's old. A new one is pretty to look at, but it lacks personality. Too young, I guess.

The same is true of a new sport utility vehicle. Even the name, sport utility vehicle, seems cold. Too hipster.

What ever happened to "trucks"? Old faded trucks at that. Faded paint talks to us about experience and many traveled roads. The broken-in seat is like an old pair of boots, both memories of many miles.

Truck seats are also special places for the hidden heirlooms that so often roll out from under them. Like the empty shotgun shell that brought down the first grouse pointed by a young setter whose ashes have since been scattered and washed into the earth with a tear or two.

A little rattle under the dash and a finicky AM radio always made for a fine traveling companion. Especially with a longtime fishing buddy in the front passenger seat who also has always been a little finicky and who too has recently begun to rattle.

A truck should be half as old as you are, or at the very least older than your kids. Every kid needs to remember Dad's old pickup.

Trucks should still be named in fractions. Half ton and three-quarter ton tell us a lot more about the vehicle than the snappy names given to today's sport utilities. It used to be quite simple. One ton was bigger than three-quarters that was bigger than half. Now all it seems like we have are a ton of options.

Options like automatic hubs that have taken away the simple pleasure of stepping into knee-deep mud. With today's trucks you don't need to push a floor shift to engage all four wheels. A push of a button or a self-thinking computer chip is all it takes.

Most of my friends drive new SUV's. Not that this makes them bad people, but the vehicles they bought to bring them closer to the great outdoors seems to do just the opposite. With windows up and automatic climate control engaged, they are just as far removed from the sounds and smells of the outside world as if they were sitting in traffic on the freeway.

No heirlooms ever roll out from under their seats. No coffee stains on the floor. Not even any dust from last year's grouse season rests on the dashboard. They keep their vehicles as clean as a luxury sedan. With the price of one being about the same, I can understand why.

I have been accused of abusing my truck because it hasn't had a coat of wax, or any soap for that matter, since the first month it came to live with me. An abused vehicle? Nope, it wouldn't start every time you turned the key, and it wouldn't warm you after a cold rainy morning in the field. And most important, it wouldn't safeguard so many heirlooms.

There's the ding in the tailgate heirloom from backing up the trail too fast to load an excited young boys' first buck. Then the armrest chewed by an eager young pup left alone while his master sipped coffee at a local diner early one opening day morning. The sun visor still sports a size fourteen Hendrickson dry fly, tied by a good friend and placed there as we drove to the next stream one warm spring day. I placed it there for safekeeping. I guess it worked since it's still there.

I can't forget the logging road dust on the dashboard. Down the defroster duct are some Adirondack black flies. Maine pine needles are under the seats and Cape Cod sand is ground in the carpet. When the heater is on, I can listen to the rustle of Pennsylvania oak leaves. And on days when the sun hits the exposed seat stuffing just right, I can relive the smells of a New England  dairy farm.

I know that mixed in with this potpourri are the Montana stream bed pebbles and the Maryland salt marsh grass. Like confetti on New Years Eve, the heat ducts have been known to blow a grouse feather or two.

With all of the features, luxuries and do-dads added to today's sport utilities, something has been lost. When we try to improve upon the simple basic things it never seems to work. It all turns into aluminum Christmas trees.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.