Reading the road signs

Emerging from the mist of the mountain road, a yellow caution sign:

Warning: tree on the way

One would think that the first clue to this well-rooted obstacle would be the presence and stature of the tree itself, growing out of a grassy, shrubby island, large, looming, and presumably predating the road.

If it were dark, or the monsoon rains were overwhelming one’s windscreen wipers, perhaps the addition of a couple of reflectors to pick up approaching headlights might be helpful. If the tree were not otherwise able to attract the attention of the headlong driver, though, would the appeal of language really help? Was it necessary to spell it out: “There is a tree in the way”?

Of course, there will always be those who drive anyway as though the signs do not apply to them, as though they own the road, as though the trees should shuffle off to one side to let them through. As a cishet affluently educated white woman, I’ll admit to failing to check a few blind spots. Sometimes, I need to be told.

But whether or not I read the sign; even whether or not I have begun to understand the languages in which it is written, the tree is still there, in the way, and unmoved.

 

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