Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 4, 2009

Vol de Nuit on Route 17

The past two nights I motored up then down Route 17 to DC.  I had to do a same day service on a visa.  Today, I find out that my business trip overseas is postponed.  Still, I have a visa that is good for one country, India, for 10 years.  May be going in March.  We shall see.

Driving in the quiet dark where you can actually see the stars, and feeling the peace I’ve had so many times in the hundred or so trips I’ve made over 17 since 1992, I recalled Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s marvel at flying in an open cockpit aircraft at night. My “Vol de Nuit” isn’t so romantic, but its as passionate as my life gets in the celebration of simple things – as they are.

In the Spring, Summer and Autumn I drive Route 17 with the windows open.  I love the smell of the fields and woods.  If I could hang out the window like my deceased dog buddy, Coal, I would.  In the Winter I look at the brown grass, the details of unclothed tree branches reaching for the bright blue, somber gray or deep dark night sky.

I call Rte 17 – Massapanox (sp) to Poquoson turn off – “therapy road.”    2.5 hours from home to turning onto I-95 with business on my mind or 2.5 hours from turning off I-95 to home with happiness in my heart.

Its the motor path I pray, sing, plead, and praise the Lord.  I sing full-throated.  I think.  I listen to nothing or talk radio or music.  I confess.  I weep on occasion – alone with the Lord as I prefer. I put words together to write.  Sometimes I just laugh.

Like yesterday night at the two homes still decked out in CHRISTmas lights.  I loved seeing them.  They just made me laugh out loud.

I admire the beauty of Tidewater Virginia – even all the ground away from the water that defines it.  Every season.

I enjoy folks even in a minute in a store.  Like yesterday in Gloucester – coming home.  The strapping young man at the check out made some comment about how cold it was.  I said, “It’ll be hot enough, soon enough.”   He beamed and said, “Yeah, I can’t wait.  Crabbing and fishing weather.”   A young man with a fine sense of priorities in life.

Good Lord Willing and business as usual I’ll do my version of Vol de Nuit and de Jour for another 5 years.  I expect to love it – what God has created, what man has built – and in the time I have to enjoy it, as the Bible says, like the grass that is green for only a season.



  1. lovely post, JAB. Thanks.


  2. Thanks so much for commenting,NoVa.

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