What was different about that summer is that our family divided up the visits, allowing us kids to each spend more time with our relatives, one-on-one. I spent a few days with my grandparents, and then one of my Aunts came to pick me up and drive me up to their farm an hour and a half to the north. My parents were going to pick me up later in the week to take me to the next relative.
It was a hot, dry summer, which was not uncommon in the prairies. Her car was brown. Actually, it might not have been brown, it was just coated in so much dust you couldn't see the colour underneath. My grandparents waved from the front steps of the farmhouse as we rumbled away down the gravel driveway, dust rising high behind the car. It was a little hard to see, but I didn't think too much of it. Everything was dusty that summer.
As we drove down the main gravel road and onto the stretch of pavement before we reached the main highway, my Aunt said she needed to stop and get some gas. We pulled into a little gas station and the attendant started to pump the fuel.
"Just need to clean the windshield," she said as she hopped out of the car and grabbed a squeegee from the bucket beside the gas pump. I remained seated in the car.
She dragged the wet spongy side across the top of the window, and rivulets of mud tracked down the glass. She re-wet the squeegee several times as she progressively sponged and cleared the dust and mud off the outside of the window.
I unbuckled myself and got out of the car just as she stepped forward and proceeded to drag the wet squeegee across the inside of the windshield. It, too was covered in dust, and trickles of mud ran down the glass and dripped onto the dashboard. Slightly flustered, she quickly cleaned the inside of the window, paid the attendant and then we got back into the car.
As we drove down the dust-free highway, windows still down but now able to see ahead of us more clearly, I asked her why the car was so dusty on the inside. She replied that the car did not have air conditioning, so naturally driving with the windows down was a good substitute.
However, living on a farm (with no air conditioning), you had to keep the windows down to cool off, but of course that let the dust in. With the manual window winders and only one person in the car, it was hard to put the windows up and down as you regularly went from asphalt to dirt or gravel - so she mostly left them down.
Thus the coating of dust throughout the car, inside and out.
Driving with clear visibility in front of you is obviously important - that is why my Aunt cleaned the window once we were off the dusty road. But ask yourself this - how many of us truck on ahead with our projects, "just getting the work done", but with no clear vision of where we are going or what is up ahead?
It might just be time to pull off the road and check those windows.
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