One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to explore small roads that I haven’t been on before. Before moving to Europe, I had imagined the sound of riding over a cobblestone street to be a quaint, charming experience reminiscent of a wholesome time painted with a fairytale brush. I was wrong. Cobblestone and cars make a loud, teeth jarring mismatch. Driving over them makes passengers bounce like water on a hot frying pan. While I don’t like driving on them, they still fascinate me.
I imagine the people and horse drawn carts that have used the road over the years. What were their lives like? Where were they going? An old cobblestone road is living history. There are many types and sizes of cobblestone, depending on the materials that were available. I have been on ones made of marble, river rock, brick, slate, granite, and cut stone. Some of the cobblestone roads I have been on in Romania are hundreds of years old. These streets were the work of skilled craftsmen who were amazingly concise in maintaining a level pattern. In some places the roads were laid in an evenly spaced arching, semicircular pattern of 3 inch cube stones with just enough space between to shed water, and just enough space to grab my high heels. Walking on them in ice I found to be far beyond my skill. I felt embarrassed trying to keep my balance while elderly people confidently strode past. Clearly, you have to grow up with cobblestones to be able to navigate them through the various seasons.
In many villages, though the roads were still in good shape, they have started to be covered over with modern pavement. Oh how seductively quiet it sounded when we drove over the new asphalt through an old village where we used to have to yell to be heard over the road noise. Although the quaint look was gone, it sure felt like an improvement. But it was short lived. It didn’t take much time before there were ruts where the asphalt had begun to be worn away, revealing the solid cobblestone underneath, unaltered by the insult of modern materials. Apparently newer is not always better.
It reminds me of some of the new ways of thinking we are encouraged to accept today. I wonder if some of them will just run their course, wear away, and reveal what was really a solid foundation all along. I wonder what new things have seduced me away from what is really better.