Before the Pavement

Julia - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: nature

The other day I took a walk down a road- a road lined with aging green oaks and delicate purple flowers- a dirt road. I did not know where this road would take me or what I was walking towards. It was not a dirt road with which I was familiar. I did not know if I would walk by old farmhouses, grazing cows, or rolling fields; I could quite possibly reach a dead end. But I was propelled forward by this dirt road, unsure whether it was by curiosity for the unknown or by the simple beauty surrounding me. I continued my walk, slow and pensive. Chipmunks darted out in front of me, scuttling back into the safety of the shrubs, while caterpillars and centipedes inched slowly through the dirt. The road led me around a bend where the trees opened up. The Green Mountains lay off in the distance, the foreground dominated by swaying corn stalks. There was no discernable sound except for the occasional hum of a lawn mower. I was in awe. An indescribable happiness overwhelmed me; I felt whole, complete. I was connected with nature; the sun and wind engulfed ever fiber of my being. This is the reason I believe in dirt roads.

I have always longed to live in Vermont, to escape the labyrinth of paved roads and the hurried people who travel them. I want to live a life of simplicity. I want to live on a dirt road.

For me, dirt roads represent a rustic life, before the trafficked paved roads, before honking cars and angry drivers. Dirt roads force the driver to slow down, look around, and appreciate simplistic beauty. In today’s world, especially in urban areas, it seems everyone has a destination. I am programmed to complete lists: to check off the groceries, the laundry, and the appointments. I hurry along paved roads to complete my tasks as soon as possible and move on. There is no appreciation, only haste. However, it is easy to slow down on a dirt road. I can hear the crickets, smell the freshly mowed grass, and see the sun-streaked birches. I wonder how much longer I will be able to go between the dirt and pavement.

The dirt road was a dead end, as I had expected. I walked to the end of the vast valley where the sun no longer caressed my cheeks, and I was engulfed in a cool shade. I stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and truly felt at peace. There were no pressing matters, no checklist to be checked, only dinner to cook when I returned home. I kicked up the dirt a little and watched it settle, each particle floating slowly to the ground, beautiful. That could not happen on a paved road. I turned around, walking back into the sun, content returning exactly the way I came.