Truck, that is. The pick-up truck is a country road staple, as quintessentially “upstate New York” as aging apple orchards and aging hippies (at least in Woodstock and Ithaca). All kinds of pick-up trucks grace our back roads – gleaming new Ford F150s, and rotted out Isuzus from the 1980s and everything in between. There are work trucks, manly trucks, mid-life crisis trucks, and trucks because that’s all anyone in this family ever drove.
Pick-up trucks are gas guzzlers. They are two-seaters that gorge out on fuel – the more handsome and sleek they are, the more you should worry. Add in four-wheel-drive and your gas mileage just took a nose dive. They are ridiculous commuter vehicles, and even more absurd “drive to the mall” vehicles. If you are driving to the feed store to stock up on 50 pound sacks of feed, ok. Somehow I doubt that’s what the teeming hordes of pick-up truck owners are doing with their trucks when I see them driving around out there. The best of them might get 20 miles to the gallon. Compare that with my diesel Jetta: 45 mpg in the winter, 50 around town in the summer. That’s why I bought it: 5 seatbelts and a “way back” for gear or garbage, with an eco-consciousness that could satisfy even the eco-fascist I have become.
I wash out and reuse plastic bags. I have solar panels on my roof. I only wash my clothes in cold water and I never use my dryer, relying instead on the convection heat from my woodstove, which burns standing dead wood I cut on my own property and split by hand (nope, not even a rented log splitter for one day’s worth of use). No fossil fuel burned to make my heat… well, almost none. You see I own a pick-up truck.
But I digress. I only eat low on the food chain, and only buy food from local farmers (that’s a tiny white lie – I *mostly* buy food from local farmers… so far I haven’t discovered a durum semolina farm locally, so I am still purchasing pasta and rice from Far Away). I buy raw milk from a farm down the road. Tom’s colleague provides us with eggs from his chickens. I feed my dogs poultry from another local farm, and kibble that is made in the USA of organic ingredients. We don’t have cable or satellite television, and read out loud to each other for entertainment in the evenings. I bake all our bread. White vinegar is the only cleaning fluid you’ll find in this house. I am a registered yoga teacher, for heaven’s sake! I reek eco-purity.
But I do own a pick-up truck.
Ok, truth be told, I don’t own it. Tom owns it. But I own Tom (wink) so I guess it really is mine. And I love it.
I love driving it. I cruise down the back roads and give that little fingers-just-lifted-off-the-wheel salute to all the other pick-up truck drivers I pass. I don’t smile; that would be too enthusiastic. I am smug in my high clearance, four-wheel-drive, off road package brute. Sometimes I sit on the tailgate to deal with my gear before or after a hike, but mostly I climb up with a rough and tumble devil-may-care coarseness, as I sling something in or out of the bed. I haven’t ever sat barefoot on the hood drinking warm beer and soft summer rain, but I feel like the heroine from a Bruce Springsteen song every time I ride shotgun with my husband at the wheel. I can’t park it or complete a three point turn in fewer than seven points, but I’m sure my credibility doesn’t suffer too much.
So what is it about the truck that turns me into Daisy freakin’ Duke? Admittedly, I don’t indulge in this nonsense often, but bad weather or a load to haul will send me scurrying for the keys. We even keep a knife on the truck’s key ring because, let’s face it, if you’re a truck-driving kind of gal, you probably will have some use for a knife before the day is out, even if it’s just to pick your nails. I enter a hazy world of denial, shattered by a visit to the gas station, when I drive the truck. I pretend it is all ok. The truck coddles me, and makes me believe I am safe – safe in the world in the most general, global, universal way I can imagine. The truck is like a symbol of the all-powerful all-American good daddy that will protect me and keep me safe from the scary bad world out there. It is Clint Eastwood and Rocky Balboa all wrapped up in Bruce Willis.
The crazy thing is, when I drive the truck I feel like I joined the club of truck-driving men, and suddenly the world feels a whole lot less threatening. My attitude does this total shift from uptight eco-czarina who scrimps and saves at every turn to abundant truck-driving friend to all. I radiate benevolent warmth and good will, and feel safe capable of handling whatever comes my way. After all, I’ve got the truck.