“Even though I’ve lived in both cities and rural areas, I’ve always considered myself a city girl although that’s probably a misnomer. Truthfully, I’m overwhelmed by city life and fast grow bored with life in the country. Whenever I’m living in the city, I yearn for a less complicated life; when living in the country, I yearn for all the stimuli a city provides.
Which typically leaves me in the suburbs, but that’s another story.
I recently read Beth Trissel’s Shenandoah Watercolors, a series of short essays which account a year’s time on her family’s rural farm in the Virginian Shenandoah Valley. Full of rich imagery and fantastic characters in the forms of people, house pets, and farm animals, Mrs. Trissel has cured me of one thing: the idea that living in a rural area is less complicated than living in the city. It’s complicated all right: farm animals must be raised, sometimes by hand. Cows are ushered from areas they’re determined to plunder, fences be damned. Pets wreak their particular brand of havoc in the house, carefully hoarded spoils overriding the aftermath of broken items and strewn garbage from unsealed trash bags. There’s constant worry about flooding and droughts and broken-down equipment; no harvest means more debt and tight finances.
Throughout all of this threads the familial and neighborly relationships – a sense of community seldom seen in city life. When trouble strikes – be it concern over a crop or the unexpected death of a much-loved and anticipated, newly born grandchild – families and neighbors come together to help and nurture each other in any way they can. I was struck by Mrs. Trissel’s summation: “The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost.”
While the grass always seems to be greener in someone else’s pasture, I’m inclined to agree with her assessment. While I don’t think farm life should be everyone’s calling, I do feel that we can all learn much from stopping to smell the flowers and reconnecting with the part of ourselves that isn’t connected to the conveniences of modern-day life. In our haste to have the latest, high-tech toys we tend to neglect the very things that keep us grounded in our humanity.”
~Review by Author K. J. Pierce