One thing I’ve had to get Raymond trained up on, vis-à-vis having a home in Queensborough, is the habit of acknowledging drivers you meet when you’re out on the road. It’s a time-honoured rural tradition, as those of you who are familiar with rural ways will know. As our friend Lindi Pierce put it in a recent Queensborough-themed post on her excellent blog about architectural heritage, Ancestral Roofs (ancestralroofs.blogspot.ca): “In the country one does not pass another human, known or unknown, without acknowledging her presence; how rude would that be?”
It’s a nice friendly thing, the driver-to-driver wave. I’m used to it thanks to having grown up in Queensborough, but because I was not old enough to drive when I lived there – we moved away around the time of my 15th birthday – it was not something I had occasion to practise myself. My mum or dad were the ones behind the wheel and thus the ones who waved to the drivers of cars we met. And then I spent many years living in larger places, and in larger places the rural wave is unknown.
When Raymond and I bought the Manse and started spending time there, the habit of waving came back naturally to me. But for Raymond it was a new thing, and I always had to remind him to wave when we met another car. Occasionally I still do. And it’s interesting (and sometimes kind of amusing) to observe him getting used to it. You see, there’s a certain technique in the wave, and he’s still learning it.
For one thing, it’s not an actual wave; it’s more a casual brief lifting of your left hand from the steering wheel, uncurling your fingers and raising them up perpendicularly from the wheel. (Sometimes men with big hands – I have often seen my father do this – just raise a finger or two.)
The other element of the art of the rural wave is timing. Raymond sometimes waves a little too early and a little too quickly, so that it’s over and done by the time we meet the other car and the other driver won’t have seen it. Your waving motion has to be a little slow and lazy – laconic, let’s say; and you have to wait to do it until just a half a second or so before your two vehicles meet.
But we’re practising, and he’s learning. He’ll get there! Meanwhile, I have a question for you: do you think this driver knows about the rural wave?