My Road

Country-Road-800pxMy wife had only one rule for finding a new house.

“It has to be on a tar road,” she said.

“How about concrete?” I asked.

She thought about that. “Okay,” she said, “I can be flexible.”

“Why a tar road?”

“Because,” she said, “I have always lived on gravel roads and I am tired of the dust.”

I could see that.

So we bought a place that had everything we wanted: a two car garage, a laundry on the first floor, a finished basement, a pond, a pasture and a large shed to store all of our stuff but best of all, it was not on a gravel road.

Our township begs to differ.

They insist the road is gravel but that is not what I see. I have examined the road carefully and have yet to find a single pebble: an essential ingredient for something to be called gravel. In fact, I have yet to find anything large enough to be called a grain of sand.

What we live on is a dirt road. More accurately, a dust road – and the dust loves to fly.

It chases cars and runs down pickup trucks. It tags after grain carts and hitches rides on tractors. It even follows me when I walk my dog. It is not so much a road that we live on as a cloud, a man-made meteorological event that shifts with the breeze, mingles with the fog and stains the bellies of passing clouds.

Because our road is a frequent flier, the township maintains a futile program to replace what has blown away. To that end, a constant convoy of bottom-dumping trucks roars past our house laying down a contrail of dust – one so thick, so wide, so high and so permanent that the Minnesota Geological Survey is debating whether to give it a name.

The end result is that we live in a monochrome world: one painted only in shades of beige.

Our house is the color of a waffle; our yard, the shade of a bran-muffin – even in winter.  Our cars are the hue of dry bones and our driveway looks like it was cast from crumbled crackers. We dare not wash anything because when the dust sticks to a wet surface, it forms the basic recipe for concrete.

So why did we move here?

We met our neighbors and we liked them.

Good neighbors can make up for a lot of negatives and these people are great neighbors. They never fail to wave as they pass by. They stop to talk when we meet on the road. They are always willing to lend a hand and ask for a hand when they need one.

You couldn’t ask for better.

Still, the dust is beyond ridiculous and I talked to one of my neighbor about it. He has lived here all his life and he gets twice the dirt that we do.

“I like living on a dirt road,” he told me.

“Why is that?” I asked him.

“Because, ” he said, as we both turned to avoid a cloud of dust rolling across his yard, “you have to be a special sort to put up with it.  On a tar road, you get everybody.”

Author: Almost Iowa

33 thoughts on “My Road”

  1. On the bright side:
    1) dust clouds are your GPS of local traveling vehicles.
    2) less glare from shiny cars once they have some dust on them.
    3) no nagging to wash the car since it is a futile endeavor.
    4) with enough dust, you can make house blend in with dirt and be invisible when the in laws or tax men visit.

  2. thatz MMMportant. good friendly nay-bores, thattizz. and you got a place w/sum acreage AND a pond? no wonder you claim all yore stuph izz fixional. or fixionated. sumting lekk dat …

  3. Dang those likeable neighbor types! They are much better than unlikeables, or even the detestable ones… I don’t know if I can like someone that much that I’d endure dust for them. (sucky friend, yes I am)


    Do they make big enough “runner” carpets you can lie down on the dirt road? That might be more expensive than paving the road yourself. Now I have that B52’s song in my head “Dirty back roads”

    1. “Do they make big enough “runner” carpets you can lie down on the dirt road?”

      We have talked about it but my wife says once I demonstrate that I can handle the one in the hall, she will consider trusting me with one on the road. 🙂

  4. When you mentioned what happens when your dust combines with water, it was such a concrete image, I wondered if you might have caliche. That’s the standard for Texas, and it’s — quite the surface.

    When I was a kid in Iowa, even the roads in the small towns were “gravel.” They kept the dust down by oiling them. Big, black tank trucks would roll through town in the summer, spraying some sort of diesel concoction on the roads. I still remember the smell — and can see the little bare, black footprints going down the sidewalks.

    1. While our dust can’t be defined as “caliche”, it is a distant relative from the same unsavory side of the family. The last time we talked to our neighbors about treating our section of the road, they just shrugged, smiled and asked how our in-laws are progressing with the harvest.

    1. It is a perfect place. I wouldn’t change a thing, except for the mosquitoes but hopefully they will settle down when it gets cold…. you never know though. Minnesota mosquitoes are tough.

  5. We had a cottage on a dirt road when I was a kid. It was a great place to escape the noise of the city until they paved it.

  6. Love this! We, too, live on a gravel/dirt road, and I don’t know why I continue to buy dark colored cars! It is futile to keep clean, but I do love our neighbors – including the deer, turkey, birds…..

    1. It is great for walking dogs too. People slow way down as they pass by. Heck, they usually stop to talk. Yesterday, my neighbor said he would be out of town for a few days. I told him I would keep an eye on his place and asked if he had anyone lined up to take care of his chores. Of course he did but you always ask and offer.

  7. Whenever I visit my brother in Iowa, I see cars in the parking lots that look like they drove through the sandbox to get there. When we grew up, our parent’s house had a gravel driveway. Tar road (although that’s not an expression in the east) all the way for me. Although, if I could filter out some neighbors…hmmm.

    1. That’s my car you are talking about. There is a car wash on the edge of town and every time there is a wedding or a funeral, the lines are long. We have been known to wash the car the night before and park it in town.

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