Diet Dr. Pepper cans, letters blurred by rain and softer than snowflakes, Red Rooster gum wrappers, a lopsided muffler, ruined by rust, and dropped in darkness from a racy roadster, these are mine to harvest this morning on the way to work. The fragments of a Full Meal Deal go into my poke along with all the other orts and orphaned artifacts except the carcass of the muffler. I didn't adopt a highway. My beat is 400 yards of rural asphalt in southern Illinois, the county of Jersey. Along one side, like sentries, are spruce and hawthorne trees, along the other, a farmer's field. The soil is bat-black and rich in worms, a burial ground for arrowheads, which the plow will resurrect, come spring. Deer cross here, leaving at night in the hoarfrosted mud, an arpeggio of hoofprints. Arrested by the syntax of this cloven calligraphy, I pause in my custodial progress long enough to celebrate the conjugations of a cardinal's song and to wave to the scarecrow beyond the fence. It isn't crows that need scaring.