Friday, April 3, 2009

5 Reasons I Love Gravel Road Country

1. It's close and it's far.
We live about 10 minutes from the highway. I consider those 10 minutes, (turn right out of driveway, follow curve, take second left, right at the STOP sign onto the county highway, take ramp, increase speed) like a very long driveway. When I come home, once I get on the tar chip it feels like 'I'm home.' For city friends, it feels like they're heading into nowhere land. And yet, it takes 15 minutes to get to the villages, 45-60 minutess to get to the city. Sometimes the drive drives me crazy.
2. It's quiet and it's noisy.
We can hear the highway from our house, though it's white noise, and when the wind is very still or slightly from the north- almost nothing. Nighttime is a special time, after the birds have calmed down and the crickets or peepers step up. No matter how many birds and critters there are, and there are hundreds and hundreds of birds around, it feels very still and quiet. We might see a dozen vehicles pass by, unless it's planting or harvesting time. A traffice jam is when two cars pass each other going in opposite directions.
3. It's simple and it's complex.
A friend just spent 30 minutes or more trying to decide which lawn care service he wanted for this season. He had information from 4 or 5, all with just enough difference in their service to render the decision somewhat crazy-making. We don't do lawn services in the country. We roll, and then cut and cut and cut. Also crazy-making.
4. It's natural and it's... not
City friends have received quite the education on country living over the past 15 years that I've lived on the Gravel Road. Yes, it's a natural setting. No, country people aren't in better shape, by definition just because they inhale all the fresh air. Yes, we can grow a lot of our own food. No, many don't. They eat pizza and packaged food at least as much as 'normal' people. Yes, we live in farmland. No, we don't all know how all our food is grown. Yes, we live in the fresh air of the 'green' country. No, we're not all rabid environmentalists. Yes, we are close to the ground. No, we can't name all the weeds that grow in our environment, and no, farmers generally DON'T want to eat all the edible weeds they spend a lot of time trying to get rid of.
5. It's easy and it's hard.
Because the population is small ( 5,000 in our 'municipality', which includes two villages of about 1 000 people each, and the surrounding country), it's easy to get to know people and to get involved in the community. One of the first volunteer activities I did was to help with some craft setup at the local fall fair. I joined the community band and have been directing it for 12 years. I started a women's choir, have worked on a Cultural Arts Roundtable to create an online cultural map of the area. The Chambe of Commerce is a great way to work... it's so easy to get involved. It's easy to start something. You don't need to have an advanced degree, or 25 years' experience. You can experiment.
Because the population is small and because it's always the same group of people doing everything, we get a little overdone at times. Things can only get so big. You can only ask so many people so many times. Because the population is small, it's hard to be anonymous unless you do nothing at all. Sometimes it's just hard to get things going.

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