I have recently received a fair amount of mail asking me if I have, and I quote, “always lived in the country?” What a silly question. Obviously not. If I had, I would be much better at it.
In my blood. I will add for the record, however, that I was country when country wasn’t cool.
Well, at the very least, I was pining to live in the country when my peers were traipsing through spiffy new developments picking out just the perfect shade of beige berber; refurbishing urban neighborhoods with eco-friendly building materials and Starbucks; or schlepping through low-maintenance condos looking for someplace to park their briefcases between business trips.
I was the lone ranger in my zest to buy a tumbledown Victorian house, fill it with clever, mischievous children and big slobbery dogs, and spend my leisure moments tossing off witty little essays on the sheer hilarity of modern domestic life.
I had no idea I was to become a pioneer charged with instructing late comers on the lay of the land.
Stealth bomb. This country thing all starts out stealthily enough. My new love lured me out to a darling little starter home in a semi-rural area. You know the type, wide open spaces, large lots, all within a quick jaunt to shopping and other aspects of civilization like pizza delivery, and cable.
It was really just suburbia sans sidewalks, but I thought I was really roughing it. Somehow, in just a few short years – and some 3,000 raccoon invasions on the trash cans later – my initial “wow, three whole acres!” translated into feeling cramped as new homes sprung up around us.
Thus, the search for the proverbial greener pastures was on.
This time we took the plunge and moved to the “real” country.
Strange, but true. At the time, we were looked upon as perhaps insane. Why would anyone choose to move to a place that was without nearby shopping, sidewalks, or a Chinese place that delivers?
Now, less than a decade later, it turns out that for the one and only time in our lives we were ahead of a trend. Many of our peers are finding themselves living in the country – whether they wanted to or not.
Obviously, someone needs to drive the proverbial Welcome Wagon, or hay wagon, as the case may be. If only to give country converts some idea of what to expect.
Clear the air. First let me just clear the air here: It stinks. The air, I mean.
Certainly there is no greater, and more misleading, PR enjoyed than that of the “clean country air.” And sure, there is the much touted perfume of fresh mown hay; or the fragrant tang of fruit heavy on a sultry summer vine.
However, there are other scents out here as well. It would behoove you to kind of sniff the place out, so to speak, before you sign on the dotted line.
After you’ve moved in down road from a farm is not the time to raise a stink about your newfound realization that cows don’t smell like roses but rather, predictably, like cows.
Sounds, not silence. The second most important thing to remember is the country can also be quite loud.
While we have no cure, nor would we want one, for the sometimes nearly deafening crescendo of crickets on a late summer evening, there are other less natural sounds.
Farm machinery is a necessity of farming, and it does not, apparently, come in quiet models. I don’t know why either, perhaps it’s to scare the crops off the vine or stalks or whatever so they leap – willingly – into the thresher, churner, or crusher-upper thingy (look, I said up front I’m not from around here).
All we need to know is that the churn and hum of a tractor in the distance can actually be quite comforting on a late summer afternoon. Or not, depending on your mood.
Bounce. Finally, when they say that country life has a slower pace – they mean while driving.
I have been later than usual for any number of events because I was stuck on a narrow road behind a slow-moving picker (or crusher-upper-thingy as mentioned above).
While urban drivers certainly contend with orange barrels and traffic snarls; rural drivers spend an inordinate amount of time staring at orange triangles affixed to the back end of slow-moving vehicles.
On the upside, I’m pretty sure it’s a rule that you get to keep any produce or small livestock that bounces from the trailer onto the hood of your car.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Usually. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or
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