(With the Help of Traveler & Friends)
OU WON'T FIND The Backroads on the Interstate. You have to veer off the busy four lane onto the less traveled county black tops, gravel and dirt roads. You have to downshift into a lower gear, slow down to take it all in ... What's out there ... Over the hill ... Around the bend.
You have to cross the old stone bridge, go past old man Larson's field and his big red barn standing guard over his prize-winning corn. You have to step back in time to small town America (the way it once was and in certain out-of-the-way pockets, nestled quietly on the back roads, still is). And when you do, it's here that you'll find (like our contributing and featured photographers, artists, writers and bloggers have found) that the world spins just a little slower here on the back roads, the sun shines just a little brighter and the birds sing just a tad sweeter.
Here, where the pace of life is not measured in the minutes that pass, but rather by how you pass the minutes.
Perhaps, we're imaginin' it, but what does it matter? After all, small town America is really just a state of mind, isn't it? It's how we treat one another. It's how we look at our world and our neighbors and our families. It's about appreciatin' the simple things in life and slowin' down long enough to take time out for a friend or neighbor in need. It's about respectin' one another and doin' the right thing without expectin' anything in return or caring whether anyone ever notices, just doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.
And it's here that you'll rediscover (like we have) brick streets, friendly shopkeepers tippin' their hats as you pass by, small town fairs with pie-eating contests, homemade hand-churned ice cream at the town social and, of course, the big turtle race on Saturday mornin' that everyone's talkin' about.
It's here you'll meet colorful characters hangin' out at the town diner, barbershop, post office or hardware store and where you can keep abreast of everything that's goin' on like the weekend barn dance, the upcomin' tractor pull and the big rodeo happenin' over in the next county.
Yessir ... it's here on the back roads in small town America that you can slow down and collect your thoughts, remember what life was once like and get in touch again with that someone that got left behind in all the hustle and bustle of everyday livin' - you know who I'm talkin' about, the little kid who used to play on the ol' tire swing and swim in the pond and explore grandpa's barn and pretend to drive the rusty old truck sittin' out behind the shed, traveling to far away distant places with exotic soundin' names and somehow be back in time for supper or for a trip into town with grandpa ... to order a hamburger, fries and a great big strawberry shake at the diner while grandpa visited with the other old-timers.
Now, just fond memories of yesteryear ...
The childhood dreams of youth, lingering silhouettes in the distance, left behind like the rusty old truck - but maybe - just maybe - that little kid is still there, hidden inside the grownup who many years ago pretended to shift gears in a piece of junk that hadn't run in years as he traveled to far away distant places ... And played dress-up in the attic ... movie star, cowboy, explorer ...
Maybe he or she is more than a silhouette, maybe he or she is deep inside - alive and well - tucked away in some distant corner of the soul, along with 8-track tape players, bell bottoms, pet rocks and hoola hoops - and perhaps, with a little coaxing, the gentlest of nudges, will come out and play for awhile, even if for just one lazy sunny afternoon while the birds are singin', the 8-track is playin' and the world is spinnin' just a little slower ...
Just down the road a bit, over the hill and around the bend on ...
Photo credits: big red barn photo by D E Grabenstein, diner art by Gary Whinn, diner photo by Samantha Choudhury, tree-lined country road by Jeffrey Newcomer, sunset in the hills by Brent Mcguirt, little girl in field of dandilions by Elena Karneeva, storekeeper taking nap by Stewart Bowman