A Small Life in a Small Town

I can drive from one end of town to the other, stoplights and all, in 5 minutes. I don't even have to speed. I DO speed, but I don't have to. Grocery shopping takes two hours because I bump into so many people in the store. A lot of the people I went to high school with are still here. We are a very patriotic and civic-minded town, and very neighborly. If you break your leg, it's a given that someone will bring you dinner and offer to walk your dog.

On the other hand, life in a small town means you can't hide. A friend told me that she picked up a box of chocolate donuts after work, and when she came in to work the next day, everyone already knew she had blown her diet. Our children have never gotten away with much in school because we know too many of the teachers and staff. Someone is always watching. When our oldest son started driving, we received regular updates: "He was comin' down that hill a little fast...better warn him about that." It exasperated him at the time, but now he sees that it's pretty cool when that many people give a damn about you.

Life in a small western town means some extra things. We know how to (properly) pronounce words like "heifer", "chaps" "leghorn" and "Gila". Five days out of seven I wear a suit and high heels, but I still know how to scrape a pig, pluck a turkey and what to do about a broody hen. You citified ones might think of one thing if I tell you a chick is pasted up, but country folk know what I'm talking about. Come to think of it, neither interpretation is all that fun to think about. A nice pair of western boots is appropriate formal footwear for men. A button-down, long-sleeve cotton shirt is appropriate for any occasion from digging ditches to date night.

If you haven't ever brought your neighbor's laundry in off the line because it started to rain while they were in town, if you never had to use a square-point shovel to cut an infuriated raccoon out of a twisted-strand fence, if you've never spent even a moment of your time trying to figure out how to keep the elk out of your garden--you don't know what you're missing. If all of your corn comes from the produce section, you have never really tasted CORN. A tomato that ripened on the vine and is still warm from the sun tastes different than anything you've ever tried. If you don't know what part of the cow that steak came from, or what exactly giblets really are, you need to come on out to the country and take a Living 101 course.

Around here, scratch isn't the same thing as cash. Kneading it and needing it are not synonymous. And yes, we are truly rednecks, because if I give you my brother's cell number, it could mean one of two things. We still see John Deere on the street once in a while, and the Pony Express still delivers mail--only once a year for a special event, but the Pony Express still runs.