BREAKING NEWS: Man seen lying in his driveway talking to himself. News at 11.

Hello, driveway. It’s been so long, hasn’t it? I’ve missed you. Did you miss me? It’s been a tough winter, hasn’t it? We haven’t seen you since Halloween. With this sudden unexpected warm up and melting … there you are. Be still, my beating heart.

It started snowing in early November and then you were gone, just like that. One minute you were there covered in splendid autumn color, and then in nothing but cold whiteness, like a blank page or a winter’s sky.

It’s been a tough winter for all of us, but you took the hardest hits like a pro. You’ve been covered and plowed a dozen times, and I winced each time they scraped you.

I remember our first driveway. That was 30 years ago, and after the first 10, she began to show her age, and finally we had to replace her. The men came with their big trucks and heavy machinery, shovels and power drills and picks, leaving a river of dirt.

For a while, we thought we might just leave it the way it was, a long earthen scar carved down to the street, brown and pure and organic. The neighbors scowled, saying things like, “Where do you think you are, in the The Forks? This is the city. We’re sophisticated, urban people here. We’re doctors and lawyers and Colby professors. We live in a modern world here and we pave it.”

We told them that we were “back to the earth people,” a new organic California generation, and that we might even grow some vegetables here, so that they could always come and pick a radish or an onion on the way home from their professional jobs.

But we were practical people. We knew the rains would come as they always did, hard and fast, drilling away at the long snake of earth, prodding and tearing at the soil, leaving pot holes and ugly ditches. That wouldn’t do.

No, we needed to be paved like the others. We needed a driveway.

So the men came and showed us various kinds of material. We chose you: gray and firm and full of character.

And so you came to be, and you made us proud, as all the urban, sophisticated neighbors around us passed by each evening.

Hiding from the light, we would watch from behind the curtains, hoping to see passersby smile and nod their heads in approval. And so they did.

I hope you don’t mind my running my hand over your smooth face. I so appreciate what a nice touch you give to the property, as you flow smoothly and effortlessly down to the street. You’re so, I don’t know, so Zen.

The street is ugly, full of potholes and cracks, painted yellow lines and rough scars from the traffic. You can tell it envies your grace and bearing.

I’ve worked hard through these years to keep you looking nice and fresh, driving slowly in the early hours so as not to wake you. I remember when the workmen came and one spit on you. You can bet I rushed out and scolded him. I said, “Would you do that your driveway?”

And then there was the time a worker dropped his cigarette on you, and then cruelly stomped it out. I was furious. After he left, I took a bucket of soap and water to clean your face. I keep an eye on these guys now.

Yes, I know. When you were covered with thick ice I had to have them cover you with a truck load or two of sand and dirt. Don’t think that didn’t hurt. But you were slippery and dangerous. I love you, but I don’t want to die on you.

Now the rain has come and washed you clean. And once again you face the summer, when the grass cuttings adorn you and autumn’s parade of colored leaves will cover you and make you a welcome path for the Halloween children.

It’s spring again and we can see you once more. Welcome back, driveway. We love you.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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