The view from the farm


Things are different here
October 15, 2010, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Every time I go back to the suburban county where I used to live, I feel a little more like an outsider looking in. I know suburban language and conventions, but they make less and less sense to me.

I’m still just learning about the country, and I won’t pretend to know all about it. Still, from what I see, I’m way more suited to country life than to city life. By “city,” I generally include suburbs, especially suburbs where people are packed pretty tightly. If there are more than two families per acre, you’re getting pretty citified. (For the record, we used to live on a quarter-acre and now we live on three acres.)

I tried making a chart of the differences, but that lost something. To bring this closer to home, I’m setting this in terms of two characters: City Sue and Country Cathy. (Okay, it’s corny, but it’s also easy to remember.) Let’s just say they’re distant cousins at a family reunion. This time, it’s being held at a country relative’s house.

City Sue, poking at her potato salad and trying to make conversation: Did you see the clothes on the line down the road? Can you believe they do that?

Country Cathy: You mean wash their clothes?

Sue: You know that isn’t what I mean.

Cathy: Actually I don’t. What do you mean?

Sue: Isn’t it obvious? Hanging clothes outside is so ugly! And so bush-league!

Cathy: Are you saying that people should hang their clothes inside? I don’t think many people can do that. I don’t know where you’d do it.

Sue: Of course not. They should use a dryer like everybody else.

Cathy: Oh, now I see what you mean. I know that family. They don’t have a dryer.

Sue: Well, they should get one! And soon!

Cathy: I don’t think they can afford one. And there really isn’t room in their trailer for one.

Sue: Ugh. Don’t people around here object to it?

Cathy: I don’t think so. Lots of people here use clotheslines. It’s way cheaper than a dryer, and your clothes smell so nice afterwards.

Sue: But it’s so…so low-class.

Cathy: Are you saying that being environmentally aware is low-class?

Sue: How on earth could hanging your underwear out for everybody to see be environmentally aware?

Cathy: It runs on renewable energy. You know – the sun.

Sue: ::sigh:: Well, it’s your funeral, I guess. It must really lower property values around here. And I bet that messy lawn does, too.

Cathy: Messy lawn?

Sue: Yeah, the knee-high grass at the edge of the property. And the whole lawn was kind of a mess.

Cathy: It’s their property. They can do whatever they want with it.

Sue: Nobody makes them mow the lawn?

Cathy: Makes them? ::laughs:: How on earth – why would anybody do that?

Sue: Back where I live, the town requires people to keep their grass no longer than six inches. The county is slightly more lenient – 12 inches.

Cathy: ::gapes for a few seconds, then goes back to her meal::

Sue: And if you don’t cut your grass, you get a warning, and then they mow your lawn for you and submit the bill to you. I think it’s a pretty high bill, what with it being town or county workers. It’s a really good idea. I bet it is part of the reason our town has such high property values.

Cathy: So somebody has to drive around with a ruler to measure all the lawns?

Sue: They mostly depend on neighbors’ complaints. There’s one house on our block – it’s just awful. I’ve called up about them several times.

Cathy: Oh, come on. You’re making it up.

Sue: Absolutely not.

Cathy: But in the city, you don’t have enough room for a goat or sheep or anything, so if you don’t have a lawnmower, what do you do? Oh, never mind. I’m going to get some dessert.

There’s going to be more on this, but it’s taking more words than I thought. I’ll post some more later.

 

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