Riding around is a time-honored rural recreation in the Great Plains. When evening comes, families like to pile in the car and take a leisurely drive down familiar country roads to shake off the cares of the day. A multigenerational activity lasting about an hour at a time, riding around, in its purest form, has no particular destination or set purpose. It is primarily a way for families and sometimes close friends to enjoy each other's company and the countryside they know and love. It is also a tried-and-true technique for putting babies to sleep and a traditional time for humming or singing favorite old songs.
Riding around is a simple celebration of loved ones, the landscape, and the seasons. In the summer, when a high evening wind comes up to blow away the heat of the day, riding around might easily include appreciative observations of a corn, grain sorghum, or sunflower crop nearing harvest, the aroma of alfalfa in bloom, or the slow meander of a hawk also making evening rounds. Autumn weather is a natural enticement for outings that can't help but include cottonwood groves and a maple tree or two decked out for the season. Winter and spring are traditional wheat times, when every inch of growth in the crop draws attention, admiration, and sometimes great worry.
Riding around is not always an evening activity. Some families and friends like to take a drive in the very early morning or after church on Sunday. However, evening is the preferred time. It seems that nothing else inspires Plains people quite so consistently as a sunset sweeping the sky, and taking to the country roads is one of the most satisfying ways to experience the drama of a Great Plains sunset. Taking to the country roads is also one of the most satisfying ways to participate in the unencumbered landscape of the region and enjoy the spirit of freedom it engenders. Since the introduction of the automobile, riding around has been a distinctive Plains tradition. It remains today the same undemanding, meditative recreation rooted in a rural lifestyle that keeps people close to each other and close to the land.
Pamela H. Brink Associated Authors and Editors, Inc.