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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

Planning New Journeys

Updated: Jan 28, 2023


Country Notebook

by Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson


It’s winter. It’s Super Bowl season. It’s almost Valentine’s Day. It’s time to do taxes. It’s time to look through gardening catalogs. It’s time to diet. It’s time to exercise. It’s time to get rid of junk. Same list just a different year on the January/February calendar.

And, it’s time to write some new stories for the Journal. I often get topic ideas by looking around.


One recent morning, I was traveling to Centerville, a road I have driven several times each week for years. It may have been the first time I noticed the ruts along a hillside. I don’t think they were made by the Oregon Trail pioneers as there is only a single path starting at the top of the hill and leading to the bottom and back up a smaller hill. And, if memory serves me correctly, the covered wagons did not pass through this part of the Midwest and of course, there would have been two ruts.

Grass now covers the indentation, but it is obvious the ruts were created over time. Likely, they were made by cattle walking from their nearby grazing spot to a source of water.


Animals are creatures of habit just like humans. Deer are making substantial paths through the woods toward last year’s soybean field attempting to clean up soybeans yet on the ground. My dogs run through the woods pressing down the earth. I take the same roads to Mound City.


We apparently are comforted by taking the same paths. Our journey is not burdened by making decisions as to how fast we drive or where we need to stop. It would not be an efficient use of our time to have to rethink our driving patterns.


Using the Oregon Trail as an example once again, what if the pioneers had said, “For the fun of it, let’s turn south and create some new paths.” Perhaps some did, but there was safety in numbers and danger in taking the road less travelled. It was predictable.


Many activities are ones we must do like taxes or what we enjoy doing, like watching football or planning new gardens. Nothing wrong with consistency when it serves us well. But, I’m going out on the proverbial limb to suggest the journey we take, literally and/or figuratively, might be more interesting by doing something new. What that might be will depend upon one’s personality, interests, and commitments to friends and family.


But, I will offer a suggestion. In many of my Christmas cards, I wrote, “Let’s plan to have lunch together this year.” I’ve probably written this same thought for many years, but this year I want to truly make it happen. I’ll bring by a pizza to friends who built a new house, 25 years ago. Or, telephone the friend who moved to Texas, 15 years ago.


These changes will not be as dangerous or have the impact the pioneers of years ago made in resettling their families thousands of miles away, leaving relatives they might not see again. But, my Oregon Trail journey may be to take the Amtrak train from Lincoln to Salt Lake City, Utah crossing the trails of the Plains onto the railroad tracks through the Rocky Mountains. Somewhat predictable and safe, but perhaps I’ll learn something and make some new friends.

I’d even have fun driving east on Interstate 70 to Boonville, Missouri to see the Clydesdale horses or to Hermann, Missouri to visit the farm of English Shires.

Anyone interested in taking some new journeys in 2023?


Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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