Little Gravel Road

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(Originally written 07-03-2014)

Between our subdivision and town is a gravel road. Just one. It curves its way through fields and rocky hills, over an almost-creek, and towards another subdivision. The beginning and end are far from country; yet the space in between is a slice of rural heaven. Husband grumbles his wish that it be paved every time we use it. But I – I secretly hope it is never paved. That the gravel road lined by horses and cows somehow never ages. For even in its beautiful Colorado state, this dusty, random path is a nostalgic slice of Kansas.

When I drive it I’m thrown back to childhood. Age five. It is summer and we are going to my cousins’ farm to play. The same farm where I hauled the barn cat under my arm like a football and insisted I always be carried inside because the sweet, harmless dog was somehow terrifying.

I am 15 and learning to drive. There is immense comfort in learning to operate a car without the pressures of city traffic. Dad is constantly reminding me to relax my death grip on the steering wheel. He occasionally reminds me to stop watching the road directly in front of the bumper and is terrified by my square turns, insisting he has never seen someone turn the way I do. It was on a maze of country roads that I learned how to read it – to evaluate the looseness of the gravel, its washboarded depths, and sopping wet edges bidding us closer to its companion ditch. The hills scare me as I approach, filled with worry that someone will fly over the top in the middle of the road, taking us out as it went. Those Eastern Kansas hills. Some rolling and others steep, ensconced between the fields of corn and wheat.

Now I am 17 and a senior in high school. The angst of adolescence pushes me to those gravel roads. Quietly driving them brings solace. They center me while I over-analyze every nuance of this chaotic existence.

I miss those dusty paths. My old stomping grounds. They cause me to crave our little Colorado gravel road. My beautiful reminder of the past. A small, unexpected piece of Kansas to share with my son. It’s a place rich in sunsets much like those of childhood. Shades of pink caress the hilltops and tuck in the fields for a long night’s sleep. Chipmunk softly shushing them from the backseat.

It never escapes me: the beauty. Whether the road pulls me to the past or keeps me solidly in the present, the quintessential allure is always there. Beckoning. Welcoming. Engulfing.

My little gravel road.