Staying Country. When it’s Cool. When it’s Not.

I keep remembering a song from somewhere in my past, I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool. And I think of how being country isn’t a style of music, or an area of the nation, it’s a way of life.

Here, in my “country”, I see somebody “I know” every time I go anywhere. A five minute trip to the Dollar Store may take half an hour if I run into an old high school buddy, someone who used to be my neighbor or my second grade teacher. Folks around here may carry on a fifteen minute conversation at the gas pump, a social nuance that drives outsiders crazy. We go to Walmart more to socialize than to shop and country stores still exists, complete with checkered table clothes, home cooked meals and “can stuff” on the shelves. We feared their days were numbered when many were forced, by large company mergers and consolidations, to take out gasoline pumps, but dinner time, which happens to be noon here, is still a busy place where locals gather to spin tales and “cut up” [that means laughing and carrying on in a big way]. So, I am happy to say that even coorporations were unable to take away our hospitality.

Oh, it’s not quite like it was when I was a kid. Seems like the country’s a little more crowded than it used to be, but it’s still slow and quiet in a lot of ways when you compare it to some other areas of the nation. I suppose that having the nearest Starbuck’s an hour away would be a major inconvenience to some, but to me, it’s just a great excuse to brew my own coffee, sit on the back porch and have a second cup while I think about what I want to write next.

At the risk of sounding like a stereo-typical country bumpkin, I’m going to tell you that I am thankful for my quiet country life, for narrow lines and winding hills, for the old men who used to widdle on the courthouse lawn, for beautician who knows my name and can see me without an appointment, for the doctor who has been a family friend for over thirty years, for the mailman who hauls my boxes of books on the bed of his pick-up truck, for the neighbor who eats pinto beans over at the store and the gal who cooks the beans and for the checkered curtains on the windows and the trumpet vine that chokes the light pole beside the road. I’m thankful for every thing that makes living in the country what it is and I want to caution folks who don’t want a simple life to please stay where you are. If you want to be in a hurry and busy and always in the “know and the now”, don’t come our way.

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