Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Call of a Dirt Road

Is there not something beguiling about a dirt road?

On the Road is one of my favorite John Denver songs, and the line, "So I looked out the window and dreamed I was a cowboy," resonates with me regarding many a road trip as a child.  But the preceding line, "I asked my Daddy, 'Where are we going?'  He said, 'We'll just follow our nose,' " is the line I was thinking of today.

Today there was a church dinner at St. Petri. St. Petri is just outside of Grygla, about 20 miles almost straight north of here. It's also 4 miles to the east.  But the roads don't go straight north. The main reason is that there is a river in between. But roads also tend to follow the towns, and although St. Petri is a bit east of us, the only town in between is on a road a bit to the west of us.  So when following the roads, the 24 miles turn into 30.

St.Petri is located 3/4 mile off the main east/west highway into Grygla.  When one leaves the church, the driveway heads south and then curves west, and then one must turns south again before reaching the highway.  Today, when I reached the highway, I turned on my blinker.  I pulled up to the stop sign, and pulled slightly into the turn as I stopped. 

But then, oh my, but then!  I looked ahead.  And the dirt road called my name.  "Come hither, my maiden, and drive upon my mysterious ways.  Come, see what I offer in sights and sounds.  Breath deeply of my fragrance and taste of my pleasures."

I do realize full well that the mystery of the straight and flat roads near us is not so intense as that of a mountain road in Washington, or the rolling hills and dales of Wisconsin.  But when one looks ahead and the road disappears into the horizon; or when it passes through a grove of cool and shady trees right up near the edges; or when one spies up ahead a narrow bridge; or better yet, you come to a sign that says, "Minimum Maintenance Road;" all these things  can lend a touch of mystery to an otherwise uneventful 30 miles.

So when I heard the call of the gravel road, I heeded it.  I flicked off my blinker and pulled straight across the highway.

From the back seat emanated the sound of a collective groaning.  Amidst the groaning, I heard questions and comments, "Aren't you supposed to turn?" or "I have to go to the bathroom, so don't take all day," or my favorite, "You always drive us into the ditch when you do this."

But still, I plugged ahead.  I tuned out the voices plaguing me, and forged on, into the wild blue yonder.

And I had a wonderful time of it. 

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