Pleasures and Struggles of Rural Living
When first moving to a rural area, after living in close proximity to a major city my entire life, I found that there are unforeseen struggles not encountered when being closer to a metropolitan area. Not to say that everything is a struggle and that there is no joy to be found in rural areas. On the contrary, I will say that I immensely enjoyed walking outside on early September mornings as my coffee mug warmed my hands. I remember looking up at the sprawling hills with the cool dew on the grass under my bare feet. The semi mountainous hills seemed as though they were almost within my grasp. The wispy fog along the edges of the hills on those mornings was like nothing I had ever seen before or since. The hills spanned the entire horizon. It was absolutely striking and is still something I enjoy even today. Aside from this and other pleasant memories, there were definitive struggles associated with relocating to a small rural community which didn’t take too long to figure out.
Some mornings, after my hot coffee and short stroll, I would climb into my Jeep and make the 15 minute commute into the small village area to browse around the few farmers markets strategically placed here and there. The fresh fruits, vegetables and seasonal flowers looked and smelled wonderful. The owners of the booths were always quite friendly and eager to show off and attempt to sell everything and anything they had so tastefully on display. These were some of the wonderful memories I have had from living in a town of less than 15,000 people.
While these were some wonderful times there were definitely many of struggles to be faced along the way as well. I often took for granted things that I found so commonplace living in and near the city for so long. I am what is typically considered a night owl. I have always enjoyed being up later in the evening whether it was to visit an endless array of coffee shops in the heart of one of the University districts to hear a local acoustic musician masterfully create several tunes on his guitar or just to browse the internet. Sometimes even a local sports bar for a beer, some spicy hot chicken wings and a late night west coast Colorado Avalanche or Detroit Red Wings hockey game. I found that these things were unfortunately nonexistent in this small town.
On most nights in the city, I would work late into the evening as a nurse at the county trauma hospital. On many of these particular evenings after finishing my shift, I would need some time to wind down after the stress of my nightly duties. Tending to the car accident and gunshot victims and their families could be a draining endeavor most nights and at the same time would also bring up my anxiety to such a level that it was quite difficult to go home and go right to sleep. I was grateful for those places to go in the city and set my thoughts on things other than the trauma I would see on a typical evening.
In the rural area, such a simple thing like curbside trash pickup became an unexpected challenge. This is something that I had taken for granted for so many years. I would put my two to three bags of trash on the curb Wednesday nights and like magic, by the morning, it was gone! I hadn’t realized just how wonderful it was until this simple thing was unavailable to me. I had to find an alternative way to remove my leftover fettuccini alfredo from two nights ago and empty milk cartons from my refrigerator. ‘Well this won’t be that difficult’ I thought to myself, until I had to actually load bag after bag into my Jeep day in and day out and haul it away myself. I gained a new and well deserved respect for the magic men who made the garbage disappear from my curb on those early Thursday mornings in the city. I don’t think that there is a worse odor than left over egg salad and tuna casserole in a garbage bag on a hot August afternoon in the small confines of a Jeep. I longed for those elusive men to make their magical appearance in front of my rural home, but as expected, they never came. So day after day I grudgingly wrapped up the tops of the trash bags as tightly as I could and made the trek to my Jeep to become my own magic man, although this didn’t feel very magical to me at this point. Besides this, there were even more unexpected things to overcome that I was beginning to become aware of.
High speed internet access, not only in my home but in other places around this small town was something I didn’t expect to yearn for. When I moved into my small home just outside the town, I soon found out that none of the major internet service providers would service my home. ‘We would have to dig under Interstate 86 to get service to your home sir, and at this time we don’t have any plans to do so’, I was so eloquently told by the overly polite customer service representative on the other end of the telephone line. Well there must be another alternative. I would attempt to call Verizon for DSL service from a home phone line and maybe even one of the cellular phone companies could provide me internet service. Both companies’ representatives were equally polite but it was an unequivocal no on both attempts. The cellular company didn’t have a strong enough signal in the area for me to take advantage of their internet options and Verizon, like the other provider didn’t have lines in the area and again, had no future plans of installing any. Being the eternal optimist, I thought there must be another way. There was: Satellite internet! I hadn’t heard of this before but it sounded like it was most definitely on the cutting edge of modern technological advances. The call was placed and they were more than happy to get me up and running. I knew I would find a way! I anxiously awaited the technician on that beautifully warm July morning. After a brief overview of this “new” technology and a signature from me on the required documents, he was out the door with a friendly smile and a wave. Bingo! I now had high speed internet. I could now get some work done at home and do some digital playing around in my spare time as well. At least that is what I thought. After it was all said and done satellite internet turned out to be just a step above the speed of a dial up connection of 10 plus years ago and I couldn’t even accomplish a lot of the things I had wanted it for in the first place. So much for the cutting edge of technology, I thought. I once again longed for the modern conveniences of the big city.
Now that I have been in this small town for a longer period of time, I have learned to adapt to these changes like most people I am sure are forced to do as well. I have the same satellite internet connection therefore I have to go to a local coffee shop, with limited hours, to do certain things online unfortunately. I also have to still remove my own trash but now make compost out of most of the food waste and burn the paper and cardboard I have left over from different things that one tends to purchase on a daily and weekly basis. It has been and continues to be challenging, but as I have said I am adapting as best as I can. Hopefully one day, in the not so distant future, I will once again live near a metropolis and regain some of these conveniences for myself. If so, I will make sure I wake up to thank those magic men on occasional Thursday mornings. Until then I’m sure I will continue to adapt little by little until these things don’t seem to be as big of an issue. Although somehow I think I will always long for the city life and the many more modern and fast things that go along with it.