Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I was visiting one of my favorite blogs the other day, and the question was asked "what does country mean to you?" I'm pretty sure she was referring to what it means in decorating. But my brain wouldn't work that way.

So many images flashed through my mind. Things that make me glow inside upon remembering them.

So I sat down to think about it, and how I can still be "country" even here in suburban Maple Valley.

Because I still feel country. I've lived all over, been to big cities, experienced life on both coasts.

But I still miss the quiet of a small town nestled at the base of the cascade mountains.

I have a hard time being where there are a lot of people. I don't love, at all, that my house is 5 feet from my neighbors. (Although I love my neighbors, I do). Traffic makes me claustrophobic, and I'm so overscheduled it ain't funny. And I like to delude myself into thinking that all of that would be better in the country.

So here is what my heart and mind combined to come up with for my very own personal definition of country.

Country means sitting on the back porch of my great grandmother's old red farmhouse.

Country means using her mixing bowl as the inspiration for my turquoise kitchen.

Country means repurposing again and again as the inspiration strikes.

Country means distressed, but not stressed out.

Country means linens dried on the line, coyotes howling at night, and running through the field between my grandmother and great-grandmother's houses.

Country is plates on the wall, comfort in every room, and letting the kids wear their shoes in the house.

Country is homemade bread, because that is just the way it's done.

Country is having a garden, and relying on it.

Country is turning away from wordly things that distract us from our families and God.

Country is hard work, physical labor, roast with mashed potatoes on Sunday.

Country is not being able to remember the first time I saw a cow.

Country is catching grasshoppers in a peanut butter jar and sneaking them into the house.

Country is hand cranked ice cream, with real strawberries.

Country is scraping my leg on a hay bale in my great-grandmother's barn.

Country is knowing most everyone in town, and having them report your good, or bad, behavior to everyone.

Country is football games on Friday and everything closed on Sunday.

Country is feeling safe enough to play outside until dark.

Country is not knowing that so much of the world may think you're a little out of touch. When really it's the opposite.

Country is watching older kids swimming the canal. Cuz they're crazy.

Country is passing tractors on the road and stopping for herds of sheep.

Country is sleeping with the windows open cuz you're not afraid of burglars and you love the sound of the crickets.

Country is all of these things, country is home.

And while I can't give all that I experienced to my children, no matter how badly I ache for that life for them, I can try and capture that feeling of love and security I associate with "country".

I can make their bread, teach them to work, and help them to understand God's love for them.

And maybe someday, I will be able to call the country home again.

But for now, I will enjoy having Target 15 minutes away, a McDonald's everywhere I look, my high speed internet connection and the many opportunities that suburban life provides.

All the while incorporating a little country in our lives, everyday.


  1. I think all of that sounds awesome, I really do, but I'm just too citified to actually live that way. I like my modern conveniences to be, well, convenient. Maybe we should spend our summers in the country. That would be a perfect blend!

  2. Your memories created a true visual for me because I did so many of the same things in the very same house, barn, & field growing up. And remember, it was your great-grandma who, when asked how things were during the great Depression, said, "Depression? What Depression? We were always poor." She equated poor with normal and lived by her hard work. She's the one who taught me how to bake bread and make homemade butter and jam. She taught me to knit and crochet. Survival tools or smart fun??

  3. Karen-I think that so much of what we are comfortable with, what we find a sense of ourselves in, is how we grew up. I love my life and I enjoy all the things that make life easier, but I'm always drawn to my memories of life growing up. I think I would love a life in the country, but be able to visit the city on the weekends. Of course, I may miss what I have once it's gone. I may just be a grass is always greener person on the country side, and then discover that it's not. But I sure would like to find out.

  4. I think there is something to be said for those people who give up everything to follow this kind of dream. I once read about a family who gave up everything here to live on a beautiful island off the coast of Italy. It's not perfect, but it's what they wanted their children to experience. This would be a great conversation for the couch, would it not?! Meanwhile, I think it's obvious and wonderful that you are creating and passing down these memories. It will create 'I wish' moments in your kids as they grow. They will know what is important in life based on your stories! I wish I had the big family my mother remembers so fondly. I don't have it, but I'm trying to create it for my kids (yes, three kids is big for me) based partly on her wonderful stories. See??

  5. I love this post! I miss Cle Elum, the smell of fresh cut alfalfa, milk that is only a few hours out of the cow, building toys from sticks and pine cones, water from a well, Peoh Point...and you!

    Thanks so much for writing this post.


  6. Country to me is woods, and fields and bugs and wonderful outdoorsie smells and tree forts and riding snowmobiles when your to young and playing in the dirt and running free all day, hearing all that nature has to offer weather it's inside or out!!
    Driving a truck and hauling hay and playing with horses and chickens and dogs and cats and hanging with cows.

    Man do I love the country!!!!

  7. That almost made me cry. It was beautiful. I lived in the country for the first 13 years of my life, and suddenly the opportunity has arisen to move back to the country to take over my family's small little farm. So I hope those things aren't just a romantic fantasy that I have. I hope they're still real.

    The country life is something I think our world desperately needs. And I really feel sorry for the kids that have to grow up in the city.


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