Moving to a New Locale | Are You a Neighborhood Newcomer?

Mailboxes on the roadside, an icon of rural living.
Mailboxes on the roadside, an icon of rural living. | Source

You know you are a foothill newcomer when you plant tomatoes in March.

When I lived in Southern California, I planted in late February when all of the snowflakes and icicles had disappeared from school bulletin boards. That's the only place I ever saw snow there.

In fact, the only way to know that seasons are changing in the southern counties, is to check the decorations pasted on the windows of pre-schools.

When we saw construction paper snowmen, it was Winter. When there were construction paper leaf shapes of red yellow and brown, I we knew it was Fall.

When construction paper flowers, bees and butterflies appeared, Spring had sprung.

When we saw multi-colored dinosaurs and space aliens on the windows, we didn't know what season it was, but we stayed inside and locked the doors. Actually, we always locked the doors. I often locked myself out when going out to plant to tomatoes in February.

You know you are a foothill newcomer when your rural roadside mailbox isn't dented.

If you are the new person in the area, your mailbox is first in line to be whacked. No matter what the numerical consecutiveness of addresses is, there's no way to force your mailbox between others to make it conform sequentially .

Since the letter carrier doesn't necessarily pay attention to exact addresses anyway, it's probably of little consequence. I believe the letter carriers purposely put someone else's mail in your box as a community service to foster neighborly camaraderie.

You often meet your neighbors by exchanging misplaced mail with them. It's a way of bonding with those who live nearby. You come to accept the fact that your mailbox goes at end of the row where, in all it's shiny newness, it practically begs to be whacked.

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It's a BIG rock.
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It's a BIG rock. | Source

Rock Rearrangement

You know you are a foothill newcomer when you spend many sweaty hours and burn thousands of valuable calories moving rocks from one place to another on your property.

Did nature not know what she was doing when rocks were placed in a particular spot? Why do we move them?

It's a good thing those rocks in Yosemite are so big. If they were not, I know of a husband who might think that Half Dome would look better if it were moved a few feet to the left.

Pets and Wildlife

You know you are a newcomer when your dog cannot differentiate between a skunk and a kitty cat and tries to eradicate skunk blast by hysterical rollicking on your bedspread.

If he hates taking a bath anyway, how much fun do you think it is to bathe him in tomato juice with a clothespin on your nose? I believe that particular ploy was invented by the tomato juice people to boost sagging profits in rural areas where tomato juice sales were practically wiped out by bootleggers and mountain spring water drinkers.

By the time you have tried all your neighbors' favorite de-skunking recipes, your dog has learned to avoid the stripey little critters. In fact he even shies always from cats, squirrels, and the deer he is supposed to keep out of your petunias.

The local mule deer will happily eat your begonias.
The local mule deer will happily eat your begonias. | Source

Gourmet Deer

Which brings up the fact that you know you are a newcomer when you believe plants exist which won't be eaten by deer.

After you have had at least $237.50 worth of nursery stock consumed by local gourmet does and fawns, they continue to look you in the eye with innocent ingratitude.

Gophers are not quite so brazen, they at least have enough shame to remain hidden most of the time, leaving only trademark pyramids of well churned earth to mark progress. To dicourage the rodents there are sonic vibration systems, there's filling the holes with ground glass, and some even suggest that bubble gum is lethal to gophers.

If you use the last method, I suspect you can lie awake at night and hear tiny bubble gum bubbles popping, between bursts of gopher laughter. You are a foothill newcomer if you believe that gophers can be discouraged, and have considered hiring a terrorist bomber to eradicate them.

Squirrels are safer in trees than on the road.
Squirrels are safer in trees than on the road. | Source

Roadkill

You know you are still a foothill newcomer if you have never run over a squirrel, or gone off the road trying not to run over one.

Squirrels, as you may have noticed, play chicken. They wait until the last possible moment to dash in front of your vehicle. In fact the game of "chicken" must have originally been called "squirrel".

When someone came up with "Why does a chicken cross the road?" it was originally "Why does a squirrel cross the road?", but casualty evidence indicates that many of them don't completely cross it, and choose to remain on the center line with four feet in the air. You don't often see this with chickens.

What's That Smell?

You know you are still a foothill newcomer when your senses are stimulated with unfamiliar sounds and smells. That strange aroma you smell is actually fresh air, and some erstwhile urbanites have been known to be adversely affected by it.

To revive yourself you may have to rely on such things as the exhaust of your chain saw and the garden tractor to get an occasional whiff of what we used to breathe in the city.

Peace and quietude is what many of us looked forward to, yet the quiet seems to magnify unfamiliar sounds. You're a newcomer if you run to answer the door when woodpeckers start tapping holes in your house siding.

There are many other ways to know you are a newcomer. For instance:

You don't have a generator, a chain saw, a weed whacker, a pickup truck, kerosene lamps and a scanner.

You expect to wait in line at the DMV, to register your pickup.

You've never cooked a complete meal on your wood stove.

People laugh when you ask where the mall is.

You haven't eaten at every restaurant in town at least once.

You believe the weather forecast.

After ten years, I think I am settling in. Finally I have gained the confidence which makes me feel a real part of the foothill community. Though I do regret the recent squirrel tragedy, I haven't moved a rock in months, and--best of all-- my mailbox has finally been whacked. Life is good.


If you are new to rural life, you may want some to know my newcomer hints on how to deal with a power outage. You can find the article by clicking here.

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Comments 21 comments

spryte profile image

spryte 8 years ago from Arizona, USA

LOL! Love this! If you replace the word foothills with "The Middle of Nowhere, NH" it works the same way. When I first moved out there...the quiet scared the heck out of me and in the spring, there was no such thing as a quiet evening because of the peepers making so much noise. Yelling at them to shut up works...for about 5 seconds...and then they are back at it...noisier than ever.

Great hub and I could really relate to it :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, Spryte. We don't have pepers-- but the tree frogs can make a racket. Of course there's nothing like waking up a to a close-proximity midnight coyote howl.


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

As always you make me LOL! And how did I miss that you are an artist, too? I love your mailbox painting!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 8 years ago from France

Yes, I am one... 3 years after moving and I am still wondering why my neighbours continue spying on me behind their curtains ???? Nothing to do with us painting the house bi-colour, planting geraniums in fall (I missed the summer!) or having multinational friends knocking at the door at the weirdest times, not that I hope!

I enjoyed this hub, finally I do not feel like a false brunnette :) like they say around here when I cannot recognize wild boar from fawn footprints.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Donna, I Haven't painted or drawn for a long time. Funny this is i was looking all over for public domain or free clip art-- when my brain finally said "Waitt-a minit" That piece was of my neighbor's mailboxes-- Ours is on the end of a row of six. I was wondering what happened to you. Haven't seen you around for awhile. I'll bet you are writing another book.

Oh good Princessa, Glad I'm not the only one-- but I think I am starting to blend in. Thanks for commenting.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

The foothills sound like a nice place to live after you've been there for ten years.  LOL  Your hubs are always so very very funny.  Thank you.


NYLady profile image

NYLady 8 years ago from White Plains, NY

A truly well-written and hysterical hub, Rochelle. I'm a New Yorker, and I loved it. The squirrels playing chicken, the gophers laughing, and the strange smell of fresh air. Charming. Wish I could be there.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks Dottie and NYlady. Yes, it is a nice place to live. As long as there's an internet, I have all this and the world, too.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Great hub and I could relate to a lot of what you are saying having lived in Southern California all of my life.  My friends often had to get PO boxes because someone started taking their mail out of the mailbox out side of their house, which is another fun part of moving out of the city into a more rural area.  


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, SweetiePie. So far, we haven't had that kind of problem. The P.O. is 16 miles away from us so the round trip costs almost a gallon and a half of gas. We usually only go into town a couple of times a week.


ErikC profile image

ErikC 8 years ago from Langley, BC

When I lived in Calgary we had foothills there too, but the weather patterns were distinctly different. For instance, I did not dare plant any vegetables until Victoria Day weekend, which is the third Monday in May. Yes, May. And the last time I planted there was on Victoria Day weekend....and it snowed the following Wednesday and killed everything (I plant seedlings, as we had a growing season about 45 minutes long).

The seasons in our foothills were also more distinct. They are as follows: Nearly Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Road Construction.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Your door locking habits are hillarious. Just what season IS it when space aliens and dinosaurs appear? It must be a 5th season in another dimension. :)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Your hubs are always so much fun to read. What a hoot '.....choose to remain on the center line with four feet in the air. You don't often see this with chickens.' I just love it.

regards Zsuzsy


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you for loving it-- I live for these kids of comments.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

I feel dumb; since you live in California, I figured you meant Foothill College, which I am taking a couple of classes through, and wanted to see what you thought! Maybe I need to take some classes in General Knowledge... But anyway, wonderful, whimsical writing, as usual. Good to see you in the weekly HubPages e-mail!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks, glassvisage.

I never thought about Foothill college-- so I guess we are even. :)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

Oh, I enjoyed reading it SO much! Wonderful! And so familiar.... I am an urban child, living all my life before coming to US in cities (not big-big cities, but like 350 thousand population cities). Now I live in a small Wisconsin town between woods, lakes and hills. A porcupine was coming to nibble on my porch and when I was chasing him away by hollering on him, he was running away, waddling like a fat kid and looking at me over his shoulder with a disapproving face. Gray town squirrels are okay, but sweet red small wood squirrels were trashing my kitchen pantry without mercy, leaving all bags tear open. When I got my face scratched by tree branches while snowmobiling in the woods and after I hit a deer in the middle of the night, taking my son to Post Prom, my late husband told that I was baptized to be a real Wisconsinite.

I love it here!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

And I forgot to mention another sign that you are a newbie in those places- when a stranger smiles to you and says “Hello”, you start thinking where he knows you from….. You just don’t even think that people may do this only because your eyes met. I also know that I am still a newcomer here, as I lock my doors like in a city. Locals do not do this.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Yes you sound like you are adjusting, well. I have never hit a deer but there have been some close calls. I did have to brake from some wild turkeys walking across the road last week.

I also used to wonder who the people were who waved hello when I walked my dog along the roadsides-- but now I know it's a gesture that means "I see you", because of course, there are no sidewalks in the country. Also I have learned to wear a red coat or vest, and a white hat to make sure they see me.

Thanks for the comments.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

Actually, a deer hit me :), ran into my car, recovered and disappeared into the woods. No meat, but just expencies for changing the passenger side door...:( This is the reality....

I am adjusting, for sure.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Deers can do incredible damage to a car, and to people.

I happened to see a collision between a deer and motorcyclist. It looked like an explosion, with deer and motorcycle parts flying everywhere. Very scary.

I don't know how badly the rider was injured. He said he "hurt everywhere", but he was conscious. We left as soon as emergency personnel arrived.

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