During our present time of fear and uncertainty, this simple greeting could make all the difference in someone’s day.
I refer, of course, to the silent salute shared between the occupants of two vehicles passing, like ships in the night, down a gravel road. (The only observable differences being a cloud of choking dust and a lot of water.) Allow me to explain. We country folk wave at all those we pass. They may be neighbours or we may never have set eyes on them before. It makes no difference. It’s a gesture of comradery and acceptance that can’t be found anywhere else but down a country road in our great land.
Of course, this is not to be confused with the courtesy wave which is a brief signal of gratitude to a fellow motorist who has shown consideration on the road, or the apology wave given after some dumb manoeuver, like cutting another vehicle off. The latter is usually accompanied by a guilty grin, a slight shrug or a decided averting of the eyes.
Certainly it’s not the flirtatious wave; randomly wiggling all fingers at shoulder level, almost exclusively used by women with effective results. Nor the regal wave popularized by the Queen in which the hand is cupped and moved slowly to and fro at a steady, measured pace. This signifies good breeding and restraint. You’ll never catch the Queen flapping her arm like some nut, in order to seize the attention of a friend across the street.
We’ve all seen or been a part of the brotherhoodwave between truck drivers and motorcyclists. This isn’t what I’m speaking of either although it’s getting closer. This wave is exclusive. Only those belonging to either group are included in the signal. It’s more a sign of professional respect between those who understand the inherent difficulties of a job, or a collective love for a mode of transportation representing freedom and nonconformity.
No, the country wave can be described in this short tale. When I was a child, our family often went for a Sunday drive. We’d ramble through the Saskatchewan countryside wherever the wind blew us, enjoying a rippling field of grain or lush green pastures dotted with cattle.
Unfailingly, my father would lift a hand of acknowledgment to each passing motorist, as they did in turn. Wondering how the heck my father could know everyone in a 100 mile radius, I recall questioning him on it one afternoon, miles from home.
“It’s just what country folks do,” he responded, smiling down at me from beneath his worn brown Stetson.
I don’t suppose he’d given it much thought, as may be the case with us all. However, if you consider it, this simple expression of friendship assures us we do not stand alone. For better or worse, we’re all in this together and share in the common bonds of community and solidarity found in folks living close to the earth.
It’s a silent communication which guarantees help should the need arise. People in the country pull together in tough times and rejoice together in good, but right now it doesn’t matter where you live, we all need to pull together.
Go ahead and wave.