Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Across the Street

Growing up, I lived in town. Well, sort of. Our town was very small, and we did have a cornfield in our backyard, but it was a town, nevertheless. My brother and I were able to ride our bikes to school, walk to the convenience store (the ONE convenience store) and get a pop, and could go to the park without much trouble. We even had friends in our neighborhood that lived across the street, or down the street, or just a few blocks away.

Fast forward 10 years. . . we had just moved into our newly remodeled home in the country, and our "neighbor" (who actually lives about 2 miles away) was beginning to wean calves. Now, if you've never experienced the weaning experience, let me tell you, it isn't quiet. So, one morning, during this said time period, I noted to Joe that the calves "across the street" were really noisy.

Joe, pointedly, corrected me, "It's not a street, Emily, it's a road."

Excuse me? There's a difference? I was very offended at first by this correction. I mean, come on, I was an English teacher (albeit sixth grade, but still. . . ). I know words. I understand phrases, semantics, grammar. I'm annoyed by the taxidermist sign at the corner of the highway that reads "Taxidermist's" not "Taxidermists." Is it hurting anyone? No. Is their business suffering. Probably not. Am I still annoyed by incorrect grammar? YES!

However, now that I have lived out here on this road for nearly four years, I now realize that there is a definite difference between the words, road and street. As a town kid, you looked both ways before you crossed the street to head to a friend's house. We checked behind ourselves to make sure that the car coming saw us, but we still pedaled down the street. We were allowed to be near it, to cross it, and to use it.

Different story out here. A road is a far more dangerous place in farm country. My girls are not allowed to be even close to the road. Dangerous, huge pieces of farm equipment, semis full of grain, augers being moved, livestock trailers pulled by three quarter ton pick-ups, even the fast drivers of those headed the "back way" somewhere make for very, very dangerous conditions on our road. Even the dust itself on a hot, dry summer day poses concern. Seriously, it would blind a small elephant when a car passes during these dusty times. Did I mention our road is gravel? Ugh.

Regardless of what is passing by, the road is more than just a street used for passing traffic. It is more of a dividing line between the safety of the homestead and rest of the farm. The cows across the road are NOT to come over here by any means. However, we have had one or two trot by on occasion, generally with Joe following, hollering words that should not be repeated.

The road is a presence, announcing its annoying self with a cloud of dust. However, because of that cloud, we know some one's coming. Anna even says, "I know some one's coming! I see the dust!" I guess you could call our dusty road our country security system! It's because of this road and the way it's traveled that we typically know who is driving by and when. We know if some one's driven by when it's snowed. We see headlights coming from nearly a mile away on nights when the corn isn't at its tallest, and that makes me feel safe, even if I don't live on a street.

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