Roadside Attraction

A recent trip to Albany from Rochester, NY insisted upon travel on the New York State Thruway.

The ribbon of road running east and west across the top of the state is a visually dull ride most of the way, offering only occasional relief. Maybe the only other stretch of Interstate more boring is I-81 between Syracuse and Binghamton.

There is, after all, only so much singing at full-volume to the car radio that’s on full-blast one can be expected to do on long car trips. This despite not knowing and boldly faking most lyrics.

That which one is driving by can help relieve tedium and pass the time.

There had long been one oasis of visual solace on the Thruway.

Long before the introduction of mobile telephones, the Thruway’s “whirligig park” was the original source of Distracted Driving.

Located near the Liverpool exit, or maybe it was the DeWitt exit (on the east side of Syracuse, at any rate), on the north side of the roadway was a phenomenon few would not see and, more significantly, most would appreciate.

Set out on a carefully manicured lawn that would put any professional golf course to shame, surrounded by woods, an anonymous but ambitious homeowner had created a “park” filled with a hundred — maybe more — handcrafted whirligigs.

Attentive Thruway drivers might marvel at the critters whose appendages flap, twirl, spin and rotate at the prompting of the breeze. Even at rest, the colorful forms drew the eye.

Pity the homeowner whose abode is located so close to a major highway supporting mammoth and noisy trucks, as well as all the other traffic sounds a four-lane, 65 mph turnpike supports.

Celebrate the same situated homeowner who turns lemons into lemonade.

A garage- or basement-based craft hobby, whirligigs serve as a source of visual amusement and delight. As much for their creators as for their appreciative albeit anonymous observers.

Apart from their creation – no small task, to be sure – their maintenance must have been time-consuming, wearing and constant. Especially given their outdoor setting, wind, rain and snow, not to mention frequent sprays of salt residue from the highway, must have all taken a toll (no pun).

Sadly, I never bothered to stop and make a picture of the whirligig “park.” Too busy, In too much of a hurry. Had to get to where I was going. And, flimsy excuses aside, why would I: it was a Thruway fixture, like a national park.

Until is wasn’t.

Now it’s gone. This, inadequately, is its memoriam.

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