I’m not from around here.
That’s probably why I got a chuckle when our local village’s Facebook status (yes, we are THAT hip) read “If you are a missing a black cow, we currently have one roaming on Main Street.”
Note they said BLACK cow. To differentiate, I suppose, from all the brown cows downtown?
If that wasn’t sign enough that we aren’t urban, on many warm spring mornings you might see a tractor roll right through the center of what is loosely referred to as “town.” Sure, it slows up traffic but I choose to find that charming.
I am not “country” by nature. I am country by choice. Real country. Not the 7-acre “Anything Estates” kind of country too often mistaken as rural life. Granted, I do get up to the “big city” (read: suburbs) often enough. There, I meet a lot of people like the fellow soccer mom a few weeks ago who, upon learning where we live, said without a hint of rancor, “I looked at houses out that way but it’s the middle of NOWHERE. There is NOTHING to do!”
Bless her heart, she had no idea she was being rude. They never do.
I’m never sure what to say to that? Telling me I live “nowhere” and have “nothing” is kind of like telling a person they are “nobody”, isn’t it? The answer I invariably give to people who imply that I must be stone cold stupid to live in the middle of “nowhere” with “nothing” to do is that my family would be very surprised to find there is “nothing” to do here.
We seem to keep pretty busy. Not for us are elaborate gold-starred chore charts and kids who think they hung the moon because they put their own plate in the dishwasher. Out here there are barns to clean, firewood to stack and animals to be fed and cared for.
It means more to a child, I think, to know that if you shirk your duties a living thing may suffer — or die. You just don’t get that same life lesson out of docking their allowance when they fail to pick up their shoes.
It’s not all work and no play, of course. Sure, the suburbs have their charms, but where but “nowhere” can most have their own sledding hills, creeks, and a “forest” for exploring, all in their own back yard?
Exhausted by all there is to do, I’m routinely told by suburbanites that I live in the middle of “nothing?” As a native “townie” who grew up with street lights and sidewalks. I’ve been there. I’ve done that.
I can’t quite understand why some are so invested in living within walking distance of a shopping center? How often do you really need toothpaste and new socks?
Trust me, we buy things (and not just at the hardware and feed store). We see movies — talkies even! We aren’t cut off from civilization. We just choose not to live within its gridlocked glow.
Residing in a region where people are a tad more spread out can feel lonely sometimes. Still, I’ve lived here just long enough to know that accountability seems higher somehow, too.
The other night I attended a township meeting where a new visitor, by way of introduction, explained who he was entirely through a sort of “six degrees of separation” from virtually everyone in the room, culminating in his being related to one of our most beloved elementary teachers.
I cannot imagine him — or any of us — attempting to act the fool in public. Not only would we embarrass ourselves, but at least seven branches of various family, friends, and business connections. It keeps a person on their toes — and on their best behavior, too.
Leaving the meeting, I stepped outside to find a group of 4-H kids holding their meeting on the lawn. They hustled to help with the door, my bag, and anything else I could — or couldn’t — carry. It was a real “Yes ma’am” kind of crowd.
Perhaps I really have gone country, but I am charmed, not offended, when a young man calls me “ma’am.” I think it’s sweet, not aging. I just assume his mama raised him right. I always appreciate a tip of the tractor cap, too.
Sitting there listening to a suburbanite tell me, without an ounce of guile, that we are clearly lacking in civilization, culture, or common sense for choosing to live outside the commute from the mall, it occurred to me that we’ve got grass, woodlands, trees and sheer space. We’ve got cows, common sense, and can find our way to many major retailers from a distance too. I had to assure her that she needn’t worry for me.
“Nothing” can really feel a lot like having it all.
Greetings from nowhere. It feels like somewhere to me.