Are You Ready For the Country?

I don't understand the suburbs. I never have and I'm guessing they aren't going to start making sense to me any time in the future. I think the suburbs are like purgatory, if purgatory means the worst part of heaven (I've been told there is no eating) and the worst part of hell (fire, brimstone, ect). They have some of the downsides of the city: houses close together, small yards, traffic. Then they also have downsides of the country: you have to drive everywhere, there isn't really neighborhoods, the surrounding areas are nothingness and highways. I'm not sure where the strip malls and bad chain restaurants fit in, but those are in the mix too. I say this speaking as someone who went to a suburb for the first time ever at the age of twenty. I'm a foreigner and I have no nostalgia for malls and P.F. Chang's. My friends who grew up on the suburbs have a real soft spot for that lifestyle. They would probably also hate where I grew up and wonder why someone would chose to live in a place where you have to worry about coyotes eating your pet ducks (and by "worry" I mean it happened...twice).  They would probably also be confused by having pet ducks. 

My parents moved to the country when my oldest sister was a toddler. To say that they were back to the land hippies is half true, my mom lived in town and was just along for the ride but my dad never really left the land. He grew up on a self-sufficient farm and lumber mill in Southern Illinois. They didn't have electricity until he was in junior high, indoor plumbing came along after he graduated high school. My aunts and uncles remember riding in a horse and wagon with my grandparents. Grocery shopping consisted of about five items that they didn't grow or raise themselves (sugar, salt, coffee, spices, flour). I remember being a kid and my dad saying to me, "Doesn't it bother you that you don't know where your milk comes from?" I think I was six and I had no idea what he was talking about. My parents tried to preserve a way of life that was and is continually vanishing, the connection between the land you live on and the food you eat. My sisters and I all hated it . 

Growing up I completely resented that my friends didn't have to do hard labor on the weekends an all summer long. Not once was I allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons, though I did hear that they ruled. I was up early to can tomatoes, pick green beans, stack fire wood, or tap trees for maple syrup (this was in late winter early spring). Trying to describe the way I grew up starts to sound like an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" no one else I knew had to build a fire after school in a cast iron stove. I did get to cut the tall grass with a scythe and no one else I knew was allowed to use incredibly dangerous, sharp farm tools. Prize! My sisters and I constantly vowed that we would never, under any circumstances, have a garden or live in the country. It sucked. 

Distance makes the heart grow fonder and now that we can all choose the lives we want to lead, we all have a garden and all love Bluegrass (another thing we thought sucked). I am the age my dad was when he had my oldest sister and I get it dude, loud and clear. Last night I went to a square dance, I'm learning wood turning, I want to take fiddle lessons this spring, and I can't live without growing my own tomatoes in the summer. I love the city, I am in love with Chicago, but give it a few years and you will probably find me on a front porch in Louisville eating homemade pickles. This is my wildest dream. 
Ye olde back yard.

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