In Praise of Sunday Drives
Growing up, Sunday mornings were for church, Sunday evenings were for grilling, and Sunday afternoons were up for grabs.
A Sunday Slow-Down
Maybe we’d read the funnies with the radio on. Maybe we’d ride bikes. Or maybe we’d pull “The Red Car” out of the garage and cruise around. My 90’s childhood was full of classic American Muscle so our Sunday drives were long on both nostalgia, and acceleration at 4-way stops. Combine that with burgers and shakes at the Rockin’ Robin and a couple tunes on their jukebox, and me and my little sister were making memories any kid in the ’60’s would have been jealous of. As I got a little older and my parents were looking for property to build on, we loved exploring rural paradise on roads with names like “Bennet Cemetery” and “Chicken Lyle”.
Up until recently, I filed “Sunday Drives” under “Childhood Memories” in my brain and let it grow dusty. But a friend of mine mentioned that she and her family drove out from their home in the ‘burbs through a couple of their favorite small towns just for the fun of it. No plan in mind. No actual destination but the open road and togetherness. And they do this every few months! How wonderful, I thought!
And so we, too, have been meandering about the countryside. We pull over for picturesque farm scenes and wildflowers along the pasture’s edge. We stop to take pictures of pecan groves. We look for the coolest old houses and imagine their histories. (My favorites are the abandoned ones!)
Once in awhile we pop into a cute little shop on a town square, but most of the time nothing is open. (Unless it’s a restaurant, Mom & Pop places usually respect the Sabbath, or at least the tradition of the Sabbath.) I keep meaning to stop at a roadside fruit stand for an honor-system watermelon, but there’s always next time.
A Surprising Connection
On our drive yesterday I waved to an old man on his tractor cutting hay. He gave me a huge grin and tossed his hand in the air in that casual, rural, Georgia-heat-makes-everything-slow-motion kind of way. Simple. But it thrilled me. It reminded me to slow down. To give fun the time and space it needs to appear.
My oldest sister (who is fantastic at spontaneity, whereas I am not) plays a game with her kids when they’re’ out on an exploration drive. They flip a coin at every stop sign; heads, they turn left, tails, they turn right. They always end up somewhere fun; ice cream shops, parks…I imagine U-Pick berry patches and bookstores too but she’s never actually talked about that. Next time my husband and I head out into the hinterland I’d like to try the coin-flip game and see where we end up!
Exploration and discovery are vital to the human spirit. In my opinion, Sunday drives feed that need. It’s the perfect way to release all plans and purpose and just see what the road offers up.
An invitation to let something good happen TO you. You don’t have to plan that something good, you don’t have to pick that something good. It’s already there, you just have to go out and stumble across it.
Maybe your Sunday afternoons are full of soccer practice. Maybe they’re full of cooking a big Sunday dinner. Maybe there’s no time to take a drive in the country anymore.
But maybe that’s why we need to.
To read more about Southern roads I highly recommend “Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads” by Paul Theroux. Driven by curiosity, not criticism, this is a thoughtful and engaging ride through the un-self-conscious South. I particularly loved reading about the Blues and BBQ in the Mississippi Delta region. So good!!
*This post may contain affiliate links. I buy the items I recommend with my own money. This is not a sponsored post. Southern backroads, Sunday drives.