My usual walks with Goldie, my Catahoula/Leopard mix puppy, take me down Scott Street around Opal lane, up Sledge Street and back. Last week I tried a route I haven’t walked in ten years.
I went down Old Stagecoach Road to Center Street then home. The contrast between the two could not be starker. The Opal lane route is so laid back and wonderful, little traffic, and much brush for Goldie to dive into and explore. On the Old Stagecoach route, we had to dodge large semi-tracker trailers barreling down the road without much regard for a man and his dog, crowding onto the narrow shoulder. By the time we got to Center Street, the scene was populated by oversized homes similar to those one would find at Plum Creek.
With apologies to Charles Dickens, Kyle is not London and Paris at the turn of the last century, but it certain can claim to have a split personality like they did. Everyone who lives in Kyle is well aware of the dramatic transformation that has taken place in the last decade. For the first one hundred years of its life, Kyle had about nine hundred people; then the town exploded. It now boasts a population around 30,000. The largest influx of people comes from Austin residents escaping the increased crowding, and expensive housing.
Most of my almost 40 years in ministry was spent in small towns. I counted it progress when a new business – a convenience store or restaurant – came into town. Living in Kyle this past year and one half has made me long for those times of giddy anticipation. Now I see the seamy side of progress. Maybe it’s because I’m just getting older, and want things to be the way they were before. Surely, it’s not progress when we continue to pave over all the green spaces in order to make room for more and more people.
I trust the City Council and the Mayor to make the right decisions for our town moving forward. They have done a wonderful job so far, balancing the needs of the new residents with the needs of the old timers. Maybe there’s nothing we can do to stop the influx of people from Austin seeking a slower pace, and a little more space. But if the trend continues we will just be a suburb of Austin soon, if we aren’t there already.
Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to go walking with Goldie on the Opal Lane route, and forget about going on Old Stagecoach Road altogether. It seems Goldie and I prefer to look for things from God’s world that fascinate us, rather than risk life and limb dodging semis barreling to their next destination.
Mark W Stoub is a retired Presbyterian Minister living in Kyle with wife Janie (Sledge), cat, Calvin and of course, Goldie. He is the author of two novels, Blood Under the Altar, and the soon to be published, Fire in the Blood.