Sunday, January 8, 2012

Frosty Roads

It was in the seventh grade that I first read The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.  At first read it was the image of being in leafy woods, alone with Nature, that drew me closer.  I could smell the leaves, yellow and brown and I drew a still closer.  The air was crisp and once I reached down to feel the softness of the grass I couldn't help myself .  I tumbled headlong into that poem and have never really left it.        

A bit older than when I first fell into the poem, but certainly not wise, I truly believed there was one best road for me and if I looked carefully enough I would see which one it was.  They all looked good to me then.  And although I couldn't see what lay beyond the bend in the road, there was no reason to believe that it would be anything less perfect than what I could see from that painless vantage. 

And so we, my friends and I, like woodland faeries scattered with the breeze.  Some landed well. They found destinations. But I wasn't ready for a destination, and I thought that I could always find my way back to where the roads split and make a different choice.  It couldn't be that serious.  It was only beautiful, timeless, carefree routes through a lovely wood. I thought to know all the roads.  My plan was to do it all.  Simple.  Spring, summer, autumn days stretched out endlessly with not a sign of winter.

And down the road I went and found so many turns.  A tree fallen across the path.  A bridge washed out, but never mind.  I trekked to the nearest, clearest turn, sometimes cross-country.  Sometimes through moss, sometimes though briers.  I began to understand that way leads on to way and I doubted that I would ever go back.
II found a fellow traveler, and tired of choosing by myself, followed him for a while.   Sometimes the road was rocky and the grass overgrazed and brown and I longed for those first two roads, both beautiful and inviting.  Only two. So easy.  I thought about the title.  It is not The Road Less Travelled.  It is The Road Not Taken.  

And so I tell my story with a sigh.  Did the poem mean a sign of regret?  Of joy?  Of frustration? If we quickly turn to see where we've been the setting sun temporarily blinds us and we see only that - the setting sun.

I chose.  We all chose.  We chose our roads without seriousness or guilt, but with every consequence.  And I continue to choose, refusing the illusion of a destination. And every time I choose it makes all the difference.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
For it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Though knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood , and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  1. So true, Fay.
    In my life, I found myself, somehow, on a road I could never have imagined, and it turned out to make all the difference in the world to me. It gave me the freedom to follow other roads less fearfully, but who knew? Not I.
    I enjoyed your thoughtful look at Robert Frost today. Thank you!

  2. Fay,
    To this day, when entering a theatre, I look down to see the wear on the carpet to determine which direction the crowd is most likely to take. I take the other way....always. I blame it on Frost but in truth it is probably my inate desire to be a rebel. Haha!

    Nice post!

    PS. What is left of me is still here.