This was written in response to a prompt from A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves.
I remember how it was to drive in gravel, to ride in the back seat down the dusty road, the feel of the tires slipping when they would stray to one side or the other of the hard beaten path and they would catch in the loose gravel piled to the side. I remember the taste of the dry dust blowing in through the windows, choking my breath. Even when the windows were closed, the dust seeped in and filled my mouth and lungs.
I remember Grandma Hazel pulling her yellow crocheted scarf close across her mouth, saying “Oh, laws, Daddy, I can’t breathe!” Her scarf was a loose crochet with gaping holes between each stitch and we kids would laugh at her idea that it would stop any of the thick dust.
As we drove down the gravel roads, clouds of dust would follow in our wake, marking our passage as surely as the wake of a ship. When we were outside, we could tell if someone was coming down the road just by seeing that cloud approaching.
Our cars were always covered in a fine white dust unless it rained and turned them muddy. The rain would still the dust for a while. A wet gravel road gives off a sharp scent that I can taste.
I lived in a house on a gravel road until my tenth year. Even now, almost 50 years later, the road in front of that house is unpaved. The gravel is spread thick in the early spring and makes for a wavering ride with the sound of the tires crunching as they turn. Now when I come home from a visit to my past, my husband says “Where in the world have you been? How could you get the car so dusty?” He rushes to get the car to the carwash, to restore its black shine. And I remember how it was to drive in gravel.