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Serving: MO

Road construction: How well do you deal with change?

Mindy Ward Gravel road next a field of crops being turned into a paved road with road construction equipment
DIRT ROAD RENOVATION: The two-lane gravel road in front of my house got an upgrade. However, it took a little time for me to adjust to the change from a quiet, country gravel road.
My gravel is gone, testing my ability to accept change to a two-lane country road.

I could almost hear the scratch in the Rodney Atkins song “Take a Backroad” as a dump truck stopped in front of my driveway, raised its bed and pulled away, covering up my gravel with black asphalt.

For those who don’t know the lyrics, let me help: 

Sit in that six-lane backed up traffic
Horns are honking, I've about had it
I'm looking for an exit sign
Gotta get out of here, get it all off my mind

Then like a memory from your grandpa's attic
A song comes slippin' through the radio static
Changing my mood
A little George Strait 1982

And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long

Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two-lane country
Who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take
Makes me wanna take a back road

Every time, I turned down Smith Creek Road — my road — this song came in my head. I lived on that two-lane back road. I loved to “put a little gravel in my travel.” But now the gravel is gone.

As the heat rose from the newly laid asphalt lane in front of my house, so did my angst. What changes will this bring to my small part of the world? Will there be more traffic because it is paved? How fast will people drive around my corner? Will city folks move in now because they don’t have to worry about gravel chipping their car paint? When I turn off the state highway, will I still feel like I can “get lost and get right with my soul” on my own road?

Change lane ahead

Last year, the township asked about granting an easement to pave our country road. Of course, I asked my husband, “Do we want a paved road?” He raised his eyebrow and responded, “Why wouldn’t we?”

I shared my concerns. He countered with, “It is progress.” I knew he was right, but it meant I had to face change. My attitude mattered.

This year has been full of changes for many people. In agriculture, we saw up-and-down commodity prices. Consumers angry at us for “poisoning the plant,” then love us for feeding them through a pandemic. Weather that spurred gorgeous crops to storms that flatten cornfields.

In our small towns, businesses shut their doors while others reopened. We learned to work remotely, but sadly, some were forced out of work.

Find the positive

Change is all around. Now, you can be upset by change. You can disagree with change. But you should never let it sit in your soul and hog-tie your joy.

If you look around, in every change, there is a positive — you might just have to search to find it.

In agriculture, the pandemic brought us closer to consumers. They now know more about who produces their food and how much dedication it takes. People learned new skill sets to keep connected to work and family. We are back to saving money for a rainy day. And we are thankful for crop insurance.

In my case, I don’t hear road traffic as much with it being paved. I don’t have as much dust in my house. There are still remnants of country life as UTVs drive by and neighbors wave.

Change can make us refocus on what is important. Hold on to those things. Build on them. Most importantly, help others find the joy in change. It is there. Trust me.

Now when I turn off the state highway, I realize it is still a back road, tucked in the hills, surrounded by farmland and forest — and here is where I can always find my soul.

QUICK WORK: The gravel road was in front of my house for years. I had to document the changes for myself and my girls. It took just days to transform it into paved lanes.


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