Nothing like a backroad to clear the dust

July 14, 2021
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By Delilah McMasters

Mansfield Record

I try to be a good person most days, and it just wears me out. I know when I start to fail, because my pants start getting tighter and what use to be easy to roll up and hide starts fluffing out of the corners. My face freezes in WTF, bypassing WTH, eyes in a permanent look of caged and trying to escape.

Rico and the girls know this look, they keep their mouths shut when I have pie for dinner and milkshakes for dessert, they start sitting at a distance and avoiding eye contact. It got bad this time, I gained weight and got that cowboy squinty-eyed look at 40 paces.

So Rico shoved me in the car and drove. He drove until I could take a deep breath and my shoulders stopped hedging up around my ears. He stayed off the interstate and took backroads, pointed out things, stopped every time he thought I might find something interesting.

There is something about backroads and dirt roads that open my heart again, make me notice how blessed and simple things really are. It’s true nothing is black and white, but when there are wide open spaces full of trees and pastures, ponds with cattails, fields of corn, cows, goats and wildflowering weeds, the sun just seems to have a special shine on everything. Going down a dirt road in the summer with a bloom of dust flying behind you and grasshoppers and sun in front of you cleanses the senses, it blows away all the time lost sitting in traffic fretting about things, into dusty clouds settling in on mail boxes and crevices barb wire fences to be washed away by the first good rain.

We had pie in Hico, and went in to look at the architecture of the Wiseman house and ended up buying truffles. Sat at picnic tables and had barbecue we picked out right off the pit in Llano. Hiked down to a couple of rivers and took pictures. Watched the sunset and sunrise sitting in rockers on a porch, while coyotes barked and rabbits scurried in the underbrush. Made a U-turn and went back to admire deer peacefully lying in the grass under trees. People watched In Fredericksburg and tried on boots. Hung out in Luckenbach and had a beer with the locals, talked about how wineries were taking over the area. Walked over the wooden planks of the second oldest suspension bridge in Texas. Stopped at a park and admired the landscaping. Got pecans in San Saba, and cherry sours at a hotel convenience store. By the time we intersected with I-20 I could take a breath deep enough to giggle again and smile at the women at Gilbert’s when they talked me into buying dried bananas dipped in dark chocolate.

Country back roads and little towns with town squares and downtown areas clear my head, cleanse my soul, make me want to be a better person. Walking into a family-owned diner after church in a little town is like a reset, the shined up boots and freshly pressed jeans and shirts, the little girls twirling in their dresses, the perfume and dab of makeup only used for Sunday. Everything right with the Lord and in your heart and nothing but dust in the rearview mirror.

Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mother of six. Reach her at

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Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.

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