City To Country: Survival Tip #5

This is #5 in a series of 5

The following advice was researched heavily.  My husband and I moved our family of 5 + dog to the country nearly five years ago.  We were keen to relinquish traffic, long lines for everything and a crazy pace.  We also wanted a freer childhood for our sons and at school,  smaller class sizes.  While I was looking forward to the gorgeous landscape and my husband the fishing, I neglected to remember one important detail.  I thought the country was suburbia.

It isn’t suburbia.  It’s rural.  As in everybody put your mailboxes on one side of the road and grab a flashlight because it’s pitch-black at night-rural.

Time for a disclaimer:  Country living is not for everybody.  If you are the sort who enjoys more pavement than grass and for whom taking a hike requires a hazmat suit to avoid mosquitoes, snuggle into your favorite sofa at Starbucks with your Espresso Macchiato and assume the following occurrs in an alternate universe. 

For the rest of you?  Bookmark on your smartphone, pronto.

Survival Tip #5:  The Converted

You’ve done it. Using pure unbridled determination to live amidst nature, you have survived the driving hazards, “leisure” activities, wardrobe malfunctions, altercations with wild animals and real estate pickings. You leave the back door unlocked, happily give lost city drivers directions and no longer call the Farmer’s Market “cute”.  You are now a Country Dweller.  It’s time to celebrate. Plus you are a little bored.

There is no better way to kill two birds than to invite some city friends “Up To The House” for a week-end.  You tell them it’s for relaxation and cookouts but in reality you have ulterior motives. You miss your city friends and have daydreams that at least one couple would move near you. Once they arrive, Project Country Conversion begins. 

For foodies, prepare a feast of  locally grown food and a quick drive to one of the three vineyards nearby.  For the Tiger Moms, leave your children’s best schoolwork on the refrigerator and trumpet the small class sizes and abundant after-school activities.  (You can even mention the high number of home schoolers in the area although you believe those Moms to be a “little off” and assert that school was invented so parents don’t become raving alcoholics).  For the People Magazine lovers, casually mention that you had lunch with a Famous Actor (OK, so you sat at the table next to him, but it’s really the same thing..) and went shopping with a Famous Country Singer.  (In reality you entered Price Chopper after the Famous Country Singer’s equally Famous Actress wife left the store, but so what?  You are on a mission and feel no remorse in pulling out the big guns.)   Then take them to the store and dine at the restaurant.  For the Bear Grylls type let them borrow your kayak, ride your bike and tell them about all the hiking and mountain climbing nearby as well as the big game hunting.  (There is no big game hunting, but you once found a mink in the garage stalking your “pet” chipmunk.)

The hook comes when, while driving them around town you just happen to go by a lovely house with a For Sale sign.  “Oh look! Open House!” You say and speed into the driveway.  By now these city dwellers have clean air in their lungs, relaxed dispositions and are pleasantly inebriated.  When they see the asking price of this “charming” house they have mentally packed their belongings, adopted a dog and envision themselves sitting on the porch swing shucking corn. They sway a little when they sign an offer with the realtor and you do a happy dance on the dirt driveway.  “Yippee, company!” you sing.

Since you are responsible for the new environment your city friends are now in, you must be available to them at all times.  Your phone WILL ring. Especially now that their Vineyard Tour Wine Buzz is over.  They are stone-cold sober.  “What is this big metal box outside the garage?” they demand.  “It’s the generator.” you reply, “But you’ll hardly ever need it.  Except two years ago, when the transformer up the street blew, and the power company had to get a replacement from upstate New York.  Oh, and of course last year when the tornado touched down 8 miles away and sucked half of the water out of the Connecticut River.  Then there was the hurricane in August followed by the freak snowstorm in October. Don’t run out of propane.  That happened to us once and we lost half the food in the fridge and nearly washed our clothes in the lake.” 

“We’re going to kill you.”  They say. 

Gently remind them of all the virtues of living In Nature and ask if they have invited their old friends up yet for a visit.  “Not yet” they admit, suddenly very excited “but we are planning a week-end for them right this minute!”

And so the cycle continues…

City To Country: Survival Tip #4

This is #4 in a series of 5

The following advice was researched heavily.  My husband and I moved our family of 5 + dog to the country nearly five years ago.  We were keen to relinquish traffic, long lines for everything and a crazy pace.  We also wanted a freer childhood for our sons and at school,  smaller class sizes.  While I was looking forward to the gorgeous landscape and my husband the fishing, I neglected to remember one important detail.  I thought the country was suburbia.

It isn’t suburbia.  It’s rural.  As in everybody put your mailboxes on one side of the road and grab a flashlight because it’s pitch-black at night-rural.

Time for a disclaimer:  Country living is not for everybody.  If you are the sort who enjoys more pavement than grass and for whom taking a hike requires a hazmat suit to avoid mosquitoes, snuggle into your favorite sofa at Starbucks with your Espresso Macchiato and assume the following occurrs in an alternate universe. 

For the rest of you?  Bookmark on your smartphone, pronto.

Tip #4:  Leisure Activities

Leisure as defined by Merriam-Webster is:

freedom provided by the cessation of activities…especially time free from work..” 

“Perfect” you may be thinking as I had, “I am moving to the country to relax, read bee-keeping books,  breathe the fresh air and watch the sunset, I will explore this interesting and oh-so-welcome experience!” Type A personality-types may require a back-up plan.  I had no such back up plan.  I got bored with relaxing. I didn’t have enough property for bee-keeping.  Breathing fresh air was not time-consuming and unless on a hill, I couldn’t see the sunset through all the trees. 

“Well, then” you ask, “what kind of leisure activities am I trained for?”  You may be  highly qualified to dig through the sale rack at Macy’s, using the perfected technique of the Sharp Elbow to outwit competition finding the coveted It Bag of the season, but perhaps your idea of camping involves a swanky hotel.  I know how you feel. 

Fear not, Annie Oakley. Luckily there is an abundance of Outside in which to partake in  Healthy Pursuits. Why don’t you try a nice walk? A little bike ride?  Perhaps a swim in a lovely country lake?  With your highly evolved shopping skills perfected at Lord and Taylor’s Spring Sale you can turn your energies into a SPORT. In the country it’s called the Triathlon.  It isn’t just one sport mind you, but three done all in one day. A  triathlon is an event where one willingly subjects themselves to jumping in a lake to swim 1/2 mile,  runs out of the lake and jumps on a bike to ride 12 miles and then for dessert runs 3 miles. This is fun-so I was told.

I was so happy to have fabulous, sporty country friends that I said yes to the triathlon challenge and found myself in a dressing room at Dick’s Sporting Goods wiggling my way into a Speedo one piece.  Brace yourself for the clothing stall at Dick’s.  A Spartan would feel at home. The lighting is horrid, the mirrors wide and to add insult to injury-there is no vanity sizing in sports clothes.  Think you are a size 6?  Surprise, welcome to Speedo size 10! After I successfully negotiated the suit straps I looked in the trifold mirror and beheld my shoulders crisscrossed by what looked like rubber bands resulting in… Back Fat.  I inhaled audibly, horrified. If this happens, do not panic!  It’s a conspiracy to sell you every piece of sporting equipment in the store to shrink your tucus. Now, in this moment you may feel compelled to quit the whole idea and pick up a brownie on the way home.  Go ahead and get the suit, in for a penny in for a pound! Or two pounds if you eat the brownie.

I swam, I rode and I ran.  I also lost the 10 pounds previously unmoved by Crystal Light and wishful thinking.  Being Type A and energetic (think of all that pent-up energy from the Not Shopping) you may befall the danger of the Sports High. Besides losing a couple of toenails from the running, getting weird forehead marks from the swim caps and numb lips from riding your bike when it’s too cold (SO fun), the feeling of completing one of these races can become addictive. Very like the rush of getting the last Michael Kors dress in your size mis-marked as clearance and the sales lady gives you a coupon.  HELLO.

You can become so addicted to the adrenaline rush whereby you sign up for multiple sporting events and become The Person No One Can Be Around.  I finished a few of these races and developed the undesirable attitude of the Recently Converted.  It’s like a religion.  Be careful.  Watch your toenails, cream up your forehead and suck your lips between your teeth.  But go do it anyway. 

What else are you going to do, keep bees?