Ozark hills on a drive. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

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A drive to Ripley County yesterday led me to spend several hours on the road. I love to drive. Getting in the car with music in the background is a perfect way for me to relax and let my mind wander with the curves of the pavement, gravel and dirt.

Yesterday I spent some time thinking about how the Ozarks’ environment has evolved, both in the long- and short-term. I’m not talking about specifics — those are many and complex — but just the concept overall of how we have changed this rolling region for our own needs.

It particularly came to mind as I thought about roads and their role in our world. As we have cut away and through hillsides, as we have laid down pavement or rutted out space to travel, we have created rippling change. I wish we could see the region as Henry Schoolcraft did when he came through in the early 1800s, just to compare.

Some of that change is bad, some is good, and all is different.

That said, not all of that is bad — I am very glad we are able to travel much more easily than our ancestors — but it does make a difference in the place and how it affects the world around us.

It’s a difficult balance, isn’t it? One example: As I’ve written about before, I also worry and wonder about what the appearance of the Ozarks will be in a few short years, as we see huge pieces of land sold and developed.

Some of that change is bad, some is good, and all is different.

Life has always had shifts — even as I type these words, the world's story is being written. And as other changes occur, let us look at the bigger picture and recognize those that are problematic and work to correct them, while still being content in where and what we are.

Kaitlyn McConnell

Kaitlyn McConnell is the founder of Ozarks Alive, a cultural preservation project through which she has documented the region's people, places and defining features since 2015. Contact her at: kaitlyn@ozarksalive.com More by Kaitlyn McConnell