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Disappearing in a cloud of dust

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Sep 26, 2021

It’s been interesting reliving the days of the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930s this past summer. (I say past summer because fall officially started this past Wednesday, Sept. 22.)

With the lack of rain, this summer was pretty dry and that translated to a lot of dusty conditions, especially for those who live on gravel roads.

Like me.

Although I live in the city of Blue Earth, my side street of 10th Street was under construction most of the summer, and that has meant clouds of dust rolling across the neighboring yards and homes almost all of the last three months. Much of that was from all the digging in of water and sewer lines and other construction work.

In full disclosure, my neighbors and I now have a nice concrete street and we are very appreciative that the project looks like it could all be done before the snow flies.

But, the dust bowl conditions persist. You see, I actually live on Main Street, and the intersection with 10th Street (and also Bartel Drive for that matter) was one of the first things to be torn up and worked on this summer; in fact it was way back in May. It has remained a gravel surface all summer. I don’t mean to complain, it has been nice Main Street has been open to traffic the past couple of months (and was open in time for the Giant Days Parade), but the dust cloud has been something to see. Or actually not see, as it is difficult to see through all the dust.

There is a lot of traffic on Main Street. I mean, they don’t call it “main” street for nothing. And unfortunately, not many people slow down when they hit that graveled intersection. Trucks, especially, can create quite a cloud of dust as they fly over the gravel. On most days the dust cloud seems to never dissipate.

We tried to keep up the dust control at our home, but honestly, we gave up.

When I look out my windows in the morning I sometimes think we have foggy conditions for the day, but it is just the layer of dust on the glass. And if we try to have the windows open on a nice weather day, well, the dust starts to cover everything inside our home.

When I mow my lawn (which admittedly has not had to be real often this past dry summer) clouds of dust which the mower sucked up off the grass surrounded me. I once looked across the street and saw my neighbor mowing and she was also encased in a cloud of dust. At least, I think it was her. Might have been someone else, as it was hard to tell for sure for all the dust.

The hosta plants and other vegetation in our yard seemed to be turning from green to tan, but then we realized they were just covered in dust and needed to be hosed off once in a while.

And keeping the vehicles clean? Forget about it.

I know what our readers who live in the country on a gravel road are saying. “Welcome to our world.” I now get it. Passing traffic creates dust. However, the traffic out in the country probably does not compare to the unrelenting amount of cars, trucks and motorcycles cruising up and down Main, even in a relatively small town like Blue Earth.

OK, enough whining, you are all probably saying. And I agree. The construction projects in Blue Earth (and elsewhere in the county) are getting close to being complete. In some cases, sidewalks and sodding boulevards is all that is left.

And, maybe some good old bituminous on the intersections of Main Street and elsewhere in the city will be completed soon. I mean it soon will be October…

And, hopefully soon, the Dust Bowl days of 2021 will just be a distant memory.

In full disclosure, I think the Blue Earth City Council’s plan to reconstruct several blocks of streets in the city each and every summer is a good one. They have a plan on how to finance this work which seems to be working out well. And, honestly, the streets in town (and the infrastructure under the streets) are in definite need of upgrade and replacement.

Same goes for the entire county. It is good to see the County Board working on upgrading many of the county highways as well, and having a plan for the future. Some of the county roads are pretty rough and in tough shape.

The commissioners are certainly aware of that and are creating a plan to improve the roadways in the county. They are looking now at an idea which would accomplish a lot of needed improvements quickly.

So, I guess I am more than willing to put up with a little dust and inconvenience to get these improvements completed.

I hope you are too, when it is your turn to have a construction project in your neighborhood.

While it is a bit of a pain while it is going on, it sure looks nice when it is all done.

Of course, then I might have to do a bit of window washing…