This morning, I decided to do the thing I’ve done for nearly all of the past 24 years worth of mornings. I woke up, cleaned up, dressed down, and drove to my office. The direction of my drive has changed over the years, but little else has. Some years I would drive in from the east. Other times from the north. At first from the south. And now, finally, from the west. This morning, as I drove from that latest direction, I saw through the distant trees the shimmering lake. This is not unique, as I see that lake shimmering quite often and have not only grown quite fond of it but also quite accustomed. I expect it to be there and I expect that shimmering on a daily basis. But for a moment, I imagined what it would be like if there were no shimmering lake through those trees.

If there were no lake, would I be driving in from the west? Would there be any reason? I wouldn’t have an office in this little town if it weren’t for that shimmering depth, that is obvious. Or is it? Perhaps I’d still be here, still selling real estate, but I’d be selling little cottages that people lived in on Mondays, and sometimes I’d sell the larger subdivision homes, too. But there would only be that one subdivision to sell, because there wouldn’t really be any people here. Where would they work? I suppose at industrial jobs of some variety. On an occasional drive from the Driftless I see a Rayovac factory in the middle of nowhere. Maybe we’d have one of those, too, because we’d definitely find classification under the Middle Of Nowhere tab.

I wonder if I’d work there. If I did, I’d probably need to arrive before 8 am. Maybe not, because I always wondered what third shift would be like. I imagine I could make good sense of it, after some time of adjustment. I’d listen to Daysleeper by REM and really feel it. I’d try to be disciplined so I could come home and eat some breakfast, which would feel like dinner, maybe. Then I’d sleep from 8 am until 3 pm, which would be a nice amount of sleep I suppose. Then the kids would come home from school and I’d be there mowing the lawn and it wouldn’t seem so different. I’d have the entire mid to late afternoon to do my household chores and attend to the business of life, and then I’d have dinner and relax for a while. If there were sports on TV I would be able to watch most of those, except late fall World Series games that last late into the night. I’d have to buy access to some sort of streaming service so I could continue watching those games even after I arrived at work. Things wouldn’t be so bad.

On those early spring days where the afternoon warms just enough to be moderately enticing for a handful of minutes I could go for a walk with my family. I don’t do that now very often, so I don’t know why I would do it then, but I imagine I would. But if the lake wasn’t down that road a ways where would we walk? And if the roads didn’t ring the lake in some sort of directional pattern, what would the roads do, exactly? Would they just run in perpendicular lines until the town faded to the countryside and one or two of the more important roads continued on towards the next town? Or would it be like Riverside, Illinois, where the roads are curved because someone heard that curved roads would reduce crime? Would we even have crime, in this little town, so long as the battery factory stayed open and no one found need to vent their particularly aggressive consternation? I can’t be so sure.

What if I couldn’t sit at a desk for a while and then when I became bored or otherwise antsy I couldn’t drive around the lake and catch glimpses of it for all of those different vantage points? Would I have anywhere to drive? Would I just drive around town, or would I do the sorts of things I hear about in country songs, where I’d drive to get some mud on my tires? I suppose we’d have to have some sort of swimming hole, maybe a damned up creek that we’d drive to at night and turn our truck lites on so we could see Brad swinging from the rope we tied to the Cottonwood with that huge branch that reached out over the puddle. I wouldn’t mind that, so much, although the mosquitoes would be intolerable.

Thankfully, the lake was still there this morning and not only was it there it was shimmering and bright and as bold as ever. Piers are going in. Boats, too. In some ways, it might not feel like a normal Monday, but as long as I get to see a bit of that lake then that’s normal enough for me.

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