10 years ago I did something unbelievable; so amazing in fact, that my friends and family were in awe (or, shock was it?). I moved, with my husband and two boys, from the city to my husband’s hometown in rural mid-west Missouri (for how city girl met country boy go here).
Now, I know what you are thinking: California girl moving to the country – train wreck about to happen. Well, sometimes, it felt that way. In truth, there were adjustments to make.
First off, in an attempt to minimize my transition trauma, we chose a house in “town” as opposed to one smack dab in the middle of a farm – like, without neighbors…and lots of snakes. However, while it is true that in “town” I can actually see my neighbor’s house, it is also a fact that “town” is basically a one block main street with some off-shooting streets, not even enough inhabitants to fill up an AMC Movie Theatre (unless you include the animals and livestock), and to get a decent work-out, you must run/walk/bike the circumference of the “town” numerous times.
However, in addition to learning to survive a rural mid-west winter (A California Girl’s Guide here), I have acquired knowledge of immense use to making it faking it as a country girl.
1. Anywhere in town, always leave your keys in your unlocked vehicle. This is very important, because you never know when someone will need to quickly jump into your vehicle to move it out of the way of a passing farm apparatus, help an elderly person needing your parking space, or borrow it for some quick, random errand. If all goes well, your car will be in the same location when you go to retrieve it. If not, a few phones calls (in my case, usually to car-swapping brother-in-law) will quickly establish a location and alternate transportation if needed.
2. Don’t be fooled, in the country the snakes live in town too. In fact, they enjoy flaunting this fact by dropping out of trees in front of your house guests, sunning themselves outside your kitchen window, slithering through your baseball pick-up games, or hibernating in your domicile. It is best to pretend you are copacetic with co-habitation and hope they are eating rodents and not your baby birds.
3. If you run out of or forget an item at a store, seek help. “Running” to the store to get a needed item is just not an option, the store might as well be a billion miles away (Which explains why savvy country dwellers have pantries the size of Mt. Rushmore). Therefore, if you need an item such as eggs, milk, spices, butter, canned corn, etc…appeal to a neighbor. If you require items such as: Whole Wheat flour, tofu, tempe, organic beans, or turkey bacon…make spaghetti.
4. Learn how to follow road directions. I know what you are thinking…how dumb can you be if you can’t follow directions. But trust me; survival depends on a vast amount of UN-documented knowledge. Here is generally how my first direction experience went:
Me: “How do I get to xyz?”
Direction Giver Guy/Girl (DGG): “Drive straight out of town then turn left at the Smith house”
Me:“Who are the Smiths?”
DGG: “The Smiths are the people who used to live in that house next to the barn where John Chaney kept his horse named Champ”.
DGG: “Then, take a right onto Boat Road”
Me: “So, there will be a road sign?”
DGG: “No, that is not the actual name”
DGG: “It is called that because of a building that looks like a boat”
Me: “So, I will see this building that looks like a boat and know when to turn?”
DGG: “No, the building was torn down several years ago.”
DGG: “Then, when you see the black bull standing in the pasture..”
Me: “You mean, like with horns?”
DGG: “Yeah – turn right at the sharp corner where Duke Dudley wrecked his truck and there you are.”
DGG: “At the chicken coup with the rooster weather vane.”
And as a country Mom, I have learned to curtail the shock of watching my kids driving before their feet reached the pedals, wielding all manner of power tools and weapons of mass destruction, and requesting flying squirrels as pets. But, that is a story for another day.
In closing, if there is one key thing I have learned about rural life, it is this…
The good thing about living in a small town is,
When you don’t know what you are doing, that’s ok…
Everybody else does…