I've been spending the week with my Grandma in eastern Washington. She lives in a small farming town in the Palouse, the wheat growing belt of Washington State. I love coming here to visit. The town is small (population 558) and remote (next town of significant size is about 25 miles away), but it has character. If you're from the city, you are likely to either be bored out of your mind here or you are going to embrace the peace and quiet. I find myself feeling the latter. Just the other day, I stepped outside into the bitter cold for an afternoon walk. The crisp air was refreshing. I had to really look around to see even one person! They were all wise to say inside because of the cold. It was very quiet, eerily quiet. That is, until I past the school and saw a small row of parked cars and activity within the building. I also saw a man raking his yard. Of course, I waved. After all, that is what you do in a small town when you see someone, you acknowledge them! The best part about my walk was the view. All around I was surrounded by rolling hills of wheat fields. Some fields were tilled coarsely, brown clumps of dirt and straw showing through. Others were a tinge of green from a new growth of winter wheat. The sky was expansive and hues of purple and blue painted a pretty fall scene.
In a small town you have to enjoy some of life's simple things. Isn't that how we are suppose to live anyway? I'm not saying this isn't possible in a city, it is. But in a small town it is more apparent. Perhaps because it is a quieter space to be. What are these important things I speak of?
I've come up with my own simple list. The first is enjoying a) relationships with people. Everyday someone is stopping by my Grandma's house to say hello, visit, drink coffee, or drop off the mail. How wonderful it is not only knowing your neighbors, but knowing the people in your town! The other is b) socializing. One evening we drove to the Cafe downtown for dinner (a lengthy 2 minute commute). My car didn't even have time to warm up before we got there. We walked through the door into a room of smiling faces. How often do you walk into a restaurant and know everyone by name? I'm practically talking Cheers here people! Now I can see the benefits of walking into a place and not knowing a soul (yes, there is town gossip), but it was very pleasant. Everyone exchanged greetings and news and enjoyed a meal together. At a table!
Another important aspect of enjoying life's simple things is c) more time spent in the home. This whole week I haven't once jumped in a car (except of course our little expedition to the Cafe for dinner). It has been absolutely wonderful and freeing! I have so much more time in the day. I also have more time at home to do the things we so often associate with chores like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and garden work. I discovered if you have more time at home, these chores feel less like chores and more like a contribution to making a place a home.
In the city, there is always something to do or to spend money on. In the country, you have to be more creative. Yeah, I could watch TV and movies or go on the computer like anyone else. Yes my Grandma is hip and has wireless and knows how to "like" a comment on Facebook, but for all the technology we are allowed in life I still can't easily get to a movie, to the mall, to a big grocery store, to a professional sports game, a concert, or even order a pizza. However, having the time this week to be more creative with my personal time (yes I am still working) has helped me to better enjoy my last point about enjoying life's simple things and that is keeping dear your c) leisurely time. This week I've taken walks, gazed at a brilliant horizon of stars in the night sky, wondered through the garden, visited with my Grandma, listened to her stories and life experiences, cooked from scratch, and I am learning to sew. Who needs to go out to eat and to movies all the time anyway! It just means when I do, I'll enjoy them all the more.
This week has blessed me in many ways. I'm thankful for life's simple things and each and every down-to-earth, country moment.
What qualities are on your list for enjoying the simple life?