Dust Up

Have you driven down dirt roads? Looked back at the dust kicked up by the tires while on your knees, arms folded on the top of the seat long before children not wearing seat belts was criminal? Or watched the cloud rise up behind you in the rearview mirror, evidence of your movement, your existence in the world and your mark upon it? The crunch of the gravel under your tires grounds you to reality, the threat of puncture or ping ever present.  These roads are not so often monitored for speed and those most familiar with them fly.  For we who are cautious, as I am to a fault, it feels faster and scarier to navigate on a surface that is only layers of dirt. I cannot ignore that while seemingly packed firm, it is the road itself billowing about me.  Shifting. Still, I’ve grown up traveling these roads in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas and they represent something unchanging.  The dust comes in through the vents and coats the back of my throat and my hair, making them thicker. The smell of it settles on my skin.  For all their trepidation and mess, I cannot avoid these dusty paths.  Indeed, I seek them out.  They are both comforting and thrilling.

This remarkable photograph by Ahram Park is on exhibit at Haw Contemporary through April 5th.  There are others, though not nearly enough to satisfy me.  More on Mr. Park here.

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5 thoughts on “Dust Up

  1. I love driving on the dirty roads in Lancaster County, PA off Route 10; and it is more fun in the fall with the leaves whirling and packing gentle dust in their mix… you cannot step on the gas furiously as Amish buggy lurks around the next corner..

  2. Boy, did this bring back memories of growing up in Kansas City and Topeka KS! My father loved to shoot and we'd go out on those dusty roads. I also learned to drive when I was about 12-13 on those roads!

    I miss them but don't miss what they do to ones car! A friend lives in Brown County IN way out in the country – a weekend retreat. But getting there and eating dust all the way, to say nothing of what a black car looks like later…well, it's something I would not want to do every weekend as they do.

  3. My father grew up on a farm during the Dust Bowl. Stories of having to tie a rope from the barn door to the back door of the house to have something to guide your trip back and forth always got my attention. When he helped me move to northwest Kansas for my first job, he passed the fertile black hills and exclaimed, "There's my topsoil!"

    Wind and dust maybe lovely images. Maybe even metaphorical. It would drive me NUTS. Or, I should say, nuttier.

  4. Your beautiful words and Ahram Park's magical photograph bring to mind memories of the "section lines" outside Bartlesville, Oklahoma. My friends and I were town kids, but we were mere moments away from the lovely roiling dust of country roads that enveloped us, a constant gritty, gravely escape off the grid. Thank you.

  5. The first 8 years of my life were spent growing up on a dirt road in the Seventies. It was fun to watch the clouds behind us. Even funnier, my parents used to order oil to spread on the road in front of our house in order to keep the dust down. Not very enviromentally conscious, huh?

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