|Are You a Country Mouse?|
Growing up in the country I loved being outside--playing, riding my bike, camping, fishing, swimming, hiking in the woods. Although I did dream of someday experiencing the city--I had a gorgeous poster of the night-time Seattle skyline hanging on my bedroom wall for years. And I was finally able to move to the city for a few years during my young adulthood. I ended up choosing Portland because by that time it seemed even ‘cooler’ to me than Seattle. I got a job in a tall building in downtown right on the Willamette River with a stunning view of the city.
|Are You a City Mouse?|
It was fun…for a while. I loved the choices that were there as a consumer--restaurants and specialty markets, shops that contained anything you wanted whenever you wanted it. I loved ordering take-out and still miss being able to call for a pizza. (I think that might be the only thing I still miss.) It didn’t take me long to learn that city life wasn’t for me.
I missed forests and fields. I missed the fresh air, the quiet, and the freedom of taking off for a hike or a bicycle ride whenever I wanted--one where I didn’t have to dodge traffic, smell exhaust fumes, and worry about getting shot in a gang-related drive-by, or being abducted by a serial killer.
Sure, there are drawbacks to living in a small community where there is literally one of each: gas station/grocery store (you would be amazed at the variety of items they stock), post office (slightly larger than a stamp itself), school (K-12), church (non-denominational), fire station (packed with generous volunteers), a VFW hall (we love our veterans!) and a grange hall a few miles down the road. And no, we don’t have a single stoplight (or a rush hour).
Gossip isn’t always fun, the nearest hospital is a ways away, we cut and chop our own firewood, and there is not a single restaurant in case you don’t feel like cooking. But… just up the road a ways toward Mt. St. Helen’s you can get a fantastic meal and an outstanding homemade cobbler (closed in winter).
But what we do have is priceless--a community made up of generous
and supportive people, neighbors who watch out for each other, and friendly,
familiar faces. Our neighbor still makes
such delicious homemade donuts for Halloween every year, like she’s done for
decades. It’s fun to watch as
grandparents and parents bring their kids and grandkids for this eagerly
anticipated, multi-generational, trick-or-treating event. (My husband sneaks over early every year and
shamelessly eats more than his share.) No
one gives a thought to Drano or razor blades hidden among these, or other,
|Do You Prefer This?|
The forest, lake, and mountain scenery is spectacular; deer and elk can be spotted at nearly any time and I couldn’t even begin to count the number of bird species. My dogs, and my husband and I, essentially have hundreds of acres of nearly uninhabited land outside our backdoor that we are able to hike on a daily basis. The only time the dogs see a leash is when they go to the vet or take a trip to the beach. The only ‘danger’ we encounter is the occasional porcupine (ouch!) or a skunk. Coyotes abound, but they are much more frightened of us than we are of them. I do carry a can of bear spray because cougars and bears share the territory, but we see their tracks much more than we see them.
A woman I worked with all those years ago in Portland grew up in the big city of Atlanta. One day we were having a conversation about city life and she said something that I’ve never forgotten. The “woods” scared her--mountain lions, bears, coyotes, big foot, and who-knew-what other monsters waiting to jump out and eat her. And ticks--hadn’t I heard of lyme disease, she asked? And what if you slipped and fell and broke your leg? If there was an emergency, she pointed out, and you were stuck out the wilderness there was literally no one around to help. Nope. No way. She could never live in the country and forgo the security of being surrounded by people.
|Or Do You Prefer This?|
I was amazed. But I appreciated that perspective--and I still do--because it made me think about things differently. I’ve never felt ‘security’ in being surrounded by people and I still don’t, but I find the contrasting life views so interesting. I’d rather brave the secluded wilderness than the concrete jungle any day.
I’m curious--do you feel safer in the country or do you prefer the ‘security’ of the city? Are you a country mouse or a city mouse?