Monday, September 20, 2010

Living in Small Towns

There is something you should know about living in the country or a very small town.  You either love it or hate it.  For some people the quite sleepyness, close community where everyone knows who you are and what is going on in your life, frequent run-ins with wildlife (sometimes with your car) and lack of close shopping or entertainment is heaven, for others it's hell.  I personally am in the love it category.  After living in the country in Wyoming  I found going back to city living intolerable.  I hated the noise, the lack of any view besides your neighbors house, and the restrictive city codes that said that it was OK to have a hysterically all-day-long-barking dog outside but heaven forbid completely silent rabbits in hutches.

Now living in a very small town we seem to have the best of both worlds.  We can have meat rabbits, chickens, and a big garden.  I can see wheat fields and church steeples from our home.  It is dead silent at night and quiet during the day.  And yet we are within walking distance of a wonderful shady park, new pool, grocery store, old movie theater, and even a few country diners.  There is a wonderful school system within two blocks and my children have friends nearby for the firstime.

After living in our town for about 6 months I had a conversation with someone that opened my eyes on how some people not only hate small rural towns, but don't understand them either.  I was on an evening walk when I happened to notice a "free" sign on some wood boards in the yard of a house.  I knocked on the door and when the lady of the house answered I politely asked if I could take them off her hands.  She agreed and we fell into friendly chitchat.  She told me that she had bought the house sight unseen to "flip" and had moved down from a Seattle suburb town to do the work.  she then went on to whine and complain about how few services the town had.  Her long list of deficiencies included a lack of theater (the Shakespearean kind), no taxis, no nightlife, and no good restaurants.  She also hated, her words not mine, the nosie rude people.

I was surprised not only by her violent dislike, but by her laughably illogical expectations of what a small and remote town could provide in big city luxuries.  After all taxies?  Really?  In a town where everything is within walking distance and there are less than 1800 people.  And night life?  Well if you love to look at the stars and listen to crickets small towns are for you.  She found the people to be invasive because they liked to talk to her and not ignore her like in a big city.

I have been told the same story about every small town we have moved to.  "Oh" says Sally such and such, "The people of (fill in the blank) are rude unless you are born there."  Well I have always found small country towns to be the friendliest places.  People love to chat, find out who you are, and will bend over backwards to help you out.  To a big city resident this sort of behavior is only present in stalkers or criminals.  The culture shock is just too much.  Here are some experiences of our small town adventures.

When we lived in Wyoming my husband was testdriving a truck to diagnose a problem when it broke down.  Before he even got out of the vehicles 2 separate men had pulled over (good old boys in cowboy hats) and asked if he needed help.

My battery went dead late at night in the parking lot of our town grocery store.  A blizzard had just started and I couldn't get ahold of my husband.  A local sheriff saw my distress and took me and all my groceries in his patrol SUV out to our home.

Our neighbor who farms came over and tilled our large garden plot for free. 

Another neighbor patrolled around our property for skunks and "took care of them".  As he put it.

After giving birth to our fourth child our local church ladies brought me meals every day for a week to help out. And when my son ended up in the hospital from jaundice they brought gifts and prayed with me for his healing.

While on my way to my daughters basketball game in a unfamiliar town I needed to stop for gas as I was almost out.   But the station was closed (on a Saturday!) and the only way to fill up was with a credit card and I only had cash.  Two different gentlemen farmers vied for the privilege of pumping a few gallons into my tank so we could make it to the town where the basketball game was with an open station.

I could list many more simple interactions that make living in a small country town so nice.  So as for me I prefer the country.

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