I grew up in the country. Not big-sky-Montana-3-hours-from-the-nearest-town kind of country, but in farmland country, where there are no lines on the roads and a “next door neighbor” means you can see their house through the trees and can bike or walk to them in under 15 minutes. We weren’t a farming family, but many of our friends and neighbors were. (An interesting life lesson is being a young teen babysitter and having to determine what to do with two toddlers when you find out the family’s dairy cows have gotten loose and need corralling.)
Our family vacations usually were spent camping and visiting state parks, Audubon sanctuaries and zoos. My mother was an avid bird watcher and naturalist. We owned a day camp even further in the country with no modern plumbing – and I loved it there. I would spend hours as a young girl taking walks through the fields and woods near our house, or on the country roads in our “neighborhood”. (A “block” was probably 3 miles.) Clearly, I wasn’t the kind of kid who was dying to escape country life.
Since my youth, I have lived in various less-rural environments. I have learned to appreciate, and rely on, the convenience of being just minutes from the nearest doctor or grocery store. Some of my favorite vacations are now not in a camper, but in a nice hotel near an ocean where I can walk on the beach. I thoroughly enjoy traveling to cities like New York or Boston to take advantage of the myriad of attractions and services there. And yet, more often than not, I come away thinking “so very nice to visit, but I could never live there.”
“Never” is of course a strong term. As Real Women, we are immensely adaptable, and can mold ourselves and our lifestyles to fit virtually any environment we end up calling home. Some of us have a strong desire for a different type of lifestyle, and find whatever it is that makes us happy. Some of us make pretty drastic changes between childhood and adulthood and end up in far different worlds than that from which we came.
But I believe the majority of us feel the most comfortable with something similar to what we grew up experiencing. When I think of many of my BFFs, their homes they own as “grown ups” often bear a striking resemblance to those they had as kids. Those that lived a bit more of a city life tend to find nature icky, and are far more comfortable a distance from it. They are most relaxed when they can hear and see the sounds of others near by, cars passing on the street, more hustle and bustle than spring peepers and crickets. Others are best suited to quaint villages and neighborhoods.
I currently have what I consider the best of both worlds. I am minutes away from retail and services, have a short commute, and neighbors near enough to be good friends. Yet less than a quarter of a mile down my road is farmland.
One of the best things about the summer months is that it is light late enough that I can take my dog for a walk after dinner, when the heat of the day has faded and a nice breeze has kicked in. The other night I walked down the road, and as my dog was sniffing his way into the tall grass, I just stood and looked at the fields, surrounded by woods, felt the breeze on my face, listened to the birds, and felt… at peace. This is familiar. This is comfort.
We can change. We can adapt. We can be happy. Yet in our core, there is something that knows when it feels right, when we feel like we are home. And when we find it, we can find peace and strength.
And that is truly a beautiful thing.