Friday, February 08, 2008

A Road Not Taken [CCR]

After growing up in rural Colbert County it is only reasonable to assume I would tend to locate in rural areas. With my career it is not always easy to live in a rural area and through the years I have made exceptions. Not this time. I actually live just at the edge of the Nashville Metropolitan Area on what one may consider a small farm. Each morning I make my way up US Highway 231 to work. But I usually deviate from the beaten path to wind along a back road and find the edge of what many consider civilization.

For me a country road is preferable to any wide multilane slab of pavement. A true country road has trees that extend their reach across the road forming a tunneling shady lane. My primary back road to work leads across a small one way bridge formed from a single slab of concrete. While not the luxurious memory of the wooden one lane bridges from my childhood, it does maintain the serenity of the drive. If I must wait for an oncoming vehicle taking its turn at the crossing I can quietly enjoy the view extending up and down the creek. I can only wonder at the number of fish who may be returning that stare and my mind momentarily drifts away from the upcoming day’s work.

An alternate route takes me along a path even more reminiscent of my younger days. This route sports a gravel road that beckons for some attention after years of traffic. It slowly slopes downward towards the fast flowing creek to a bed of rock where no bridge lies in my path. I slowly ford the creek as my Jeep sloshes along through the water. To the north is a rather large rock and earthen dam that may have once supplied the local grist mill, although no verifiable remnant is seen. As I climb the opposite slope I watch a flock of turkeys meander across the road and see several horses grazing beyond the trees in the nearby pasture.

As a child in rural Colbert County I remember many similar roads, some more traveled than others. In my younger days it seems we always anticipated an upgrade, when asphalt would overtake the yellow gravel and dirt combinations. Time progressed and soon the entire road to Mountain Springs sported a wide, paved right of way. Not long after that change you could no longer find a gravel path around the Riverton Rose Trail. Transportation advanced as older homes faded into history and new, modern housing took their place along these routes. I understand the advantages to advancement for our economy, but I sometimes mourn the loss as well.

Gone are the days when you traveled a little slower as to not stir the dust or sling the gravel. The gentle drive gave time to recognize the passing neighbor and you may even stop a moment for conversation, a Southern tradition. On the quite back roads to my office these golden nuggets of memory have bypassed the constructive wheels of modernization. One day they may fall victim to asphalt and urbanization, but for now they grant me solitude and a moment of peace before the rush of another workday.