Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lessons on Country Living

Living here in the country isn't like living somewhere else. I mean, yeah, there's no Starbucks or Panera, and lord knows, no sushi. No shopping. No Target. No pizza delivery.

But that's not what I mean. People just plain old do things differently here. This city girl has learned a few things:

* You best be dressed and downstairs before 8am (and for goodness sake, put on a bra), because people will drop by unannounced, and they will do the "knock-and-enter"

* On that same note, the UPS guy will just open your door, without knocking, and bring your package in. This is a very good reason for a girl like you to never own a gun for home defense.

* When your neighbor comes over to tell you-again-to get your damn chickens out of his yard, even though you both know what he wants, he will not mention it for a good 25 minutes. Instead, it is apparently mandatory that he ask after your family, your crops, the house, compliment your yard, your dog, your animals, and just generally bullshit for awhile. By this time, a girl like you will have given up and left the conversation to your husband, who approaches every discussion, including ones with random drive-thru people, exactly this way.

* Said husband, despite having grown up here, still will not be able to find the bagels in a local grocery store the size of a 7-11. That hasn't changed from the suburbs.

* People here will not be impressed by your homemaking if you: hang your clothes out, bake your own bread, grow your own organic veggies, cook three meals a day from scratch, and can your extra produce. Every single one of them has been doing that their entire lives. There will be no mention of eating locally, saving the environment, reducing your footprint, or high-fructose corn syrup. Those are city ideas. If you're lucky like me, your mother-in-law will eventually teach you how to can tomatoes, because every other woman around will say, "Oh that's easy. You know how to do that", never dreaming that you have absolutely no idea how to do that, and are in fact, terrified of killing the kids with botulism.

* Go ahead and vote Democratic. Later on the local news, you'll see that you were the only one in your district. Good luck turning it around!

* You may want to avoid bringing up: organics, gun control, the EPA, anything environmental, pesticides, freedom of religion in schools, health care, welfare, how Walmart is evil, immigration policy, Monsanto, Michael Pollan, HFCS, chemical drift, poisoned me, you're about to get an education. A long one. I personally love learning a completely different viewpoint on this stuff, but you have to be willing to acknowledge that everything you've read is written from a very yuppie city worldview. Yes, it is. Even your favorite book. And mine too.

* When cooking for the men on the farm, you're gonna want to avoid anything "fancy". This includes: anything with mushrooms or onions, any type of seafood, boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh herbs (or dried, for that matter), cheeses besides American or mild Cheddar, any type of ethnic food, and just about any veggie besides carrot sticks, celery, or sweet corn. Here's what you should cook, if you want to make the men happy: beef. Or bacon. Or preferably both, in the same dish. And I've never seen them turn down a dessert yet, no matter what it was.

* More people than you will ever imagine will walk up to you and tell you that they've already been in your house, after you bought and renovated it, but "don't worry, you hadn't moved in yet"

* Don't be disturbed by the four year olds driving four wheelers around with no helmet. You are not a fun mom.

* Car seats are for city kids. Especially over the age of three.

* You know how in the movies the community always comes together to pick a neighbor's crops if he is sick or behind getting the corn in or something? That is exactly what happens. Except no one talks about it like it's a big deal.

* People at the store (and really everywhere else) know who you are, even if you have no idea who they are. See: reasons to get dressed, above.

* An incredible amount of people, and businesses, on meeting you, will say something like "Oh, we know Dad. No need to pay now, you can just settle up later." Needless to say, this never happened to me in the city.

* You know that big ugly white gas tank out back? You should be checking to make sure it is full. But only if you like things like heat, hot water, or a stove that works.

* People who grew up on a farm seem to know how to do a lot of very useful, real-life things that a very good and expensive suburban education did not even come close to teaching this girl.

*Lastly, you would not believe how friendly, helpful, and just plain nice country people are. I thought my parent's friends and neighbors in the city were nice (and they are). But it's nothing like this. These people are amazing. There is nothing like coming home from having a baby to find that a neighbor you have never met has come in and left a big platter of treats on your kitchen table. You may initially be freaked out that people you don't know were in your house alone, but you get over that pretty quick.

Yes, I've had a lot to learn, but goodness gracious, every bit of it has been good for me. We are so blessed to live here. I can't picture ever going back now. Except for the Starbucks. And restaurants. And shopping.

****NOTE: These are just my opinions. I've only lived here for 20 months. I have no idea what I'm talking about, truly.*********