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Monday, April 19, 2010

Country Speed Bumps

Rural living is not for "Type A" people.

Whenever we go to the city, I am amazed at how fast people seem to think they need to go. They hurry up and pull out in front of you. They rush to park close to the store. They can't seem to get from one place to the next fast enough.

I was reared in a city, so you might think I'd be a little like that. But I grew up close to downtown and walked or rode my bike everywhere. In my family, we walked to school, walked to the grocery, walked downtown, walked to Wilson's, the movies, the playground, the park and Church. Even though we lived in the city, we were pretty slow-paced and low tech.

Actually, my Mom was the epitome of slow-paced living. She lived two blocks from the Church and had a twisted sense of pride in the fact that she would leave the house for worship as they were tolling the bell for the beginning of the service. She had a gift for delay. Talk to the clerk at the grocery. Flirt with the waiter at Rocking U. Chat with the neighbors. If you happened to be running a few minutes early, Mom always found something important to discuss with the cat just to prevent you from running on time.

But I digress.

One of the things I appreciate about living in rural Indiana is the fact that there really isn't too much to hurry about. And just to make sure you understand this fact, there are several built in "speed bumps" to remind you that there's really no good reason to go too fast.

Turkeys are great fun to watch. Once I was on the way to work on the Laketon Road and a turkey hen was standing out in the middle of the road. She looked at me like Gandalf looked at the Balrog in the Moriah mines. She stared me down as if to say, "You shall not pass!"

I tooted the horn. I was in our 1970 Beetle and the horn seemed appropriate for the moment.

The turkey hen started to run. Not off the road, but straight away from me, down the center of the road.

I followed her about 1/4 of a mile and she ran faster and faster. Finally she looked back at me as if to say, "Apparently he's not going to leave me alone." With a flying leap, her four foot wingspan lifted her with grace over the fence. Two or three flaps of those beautiful feathered fans and she was in the middle of the field. An elegant touch down and away she went, likely to forget my blue Beetle as soon as I drove off.

No hurry could have appreciated the moment.

Our rural infrastructure is designed to keep things apace - slowly apace. State roads, county roads and township roads are sliced between fields of corn, soy beans and wheat. This is only natural: agriculture rules the roost here.

Where there are no fields, there are marvelously narrow passes through woods and along the rivers, over 100 year old iron bridges and through romantic covered bridges.

These roads are made for meandering. How else can you view the great blue herons fishing? Or the turtles sunning themselves on the macadam? Or the birds playing in the trees over head.

Rural life and roads are designed to appreciate these sorts of things more than to provide a speedy means of going from Point A to Point B.

Finally, the ultimate country speed bump is the auction sale. (I know "auction sale" seems redundant, but that's what they are. Deal with it. :-)

An auction sale is no small event. It's part festival, part block party. In some ways it's our answer to the big box stores. There's also a measure of voyeurism: under the pretense of finding out what your neighbor has to sell you get a chance to see what he has in the back shelves of his closets, the drawers of his workshop, and the corners of his barn.

Auction traffic can frustrate town people because the lanes and ditches around the sale double as parking lots. Crowds of people swarming around the auctioneer move to the cadence of his call. Buyers make their way down the berm with headboards and mirrors, farm equipment, tools, and miscellany. They are as disinterested in the hurrying drivers as those in a hurry are disinterested in the auction.

The difference is that the hurrier is in rural Indiana and there is little to hurry about here.

No, rural living is not for "Type A" people. It's for the Type of people who take life a little more slowly, who appreciate everyday blessings. It's not for everyone, but it definitely is for me.

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