Who You Calling A Hick?

by : David Leonhardt

For the last time, I live in the country, not in the sticks. And I am relaxed, not a hick.

Ever since we moved to the country, I get the feeling you city-folk are confused. So here is a primer on what it means to be living in the country.

When you walk three blocks from your house in the city, you will be in another neighborhood...and possibly lost. We'll be approaching our next-door neighbor's front porch.

The neighbors are no trouble at all. Sure they play hard rock heavy metal blow-your-brains out music all evening...but the birds and the crickets drown out the racket.

Our neighbor across the road has a sign that stays lit up all night: Bert's Auto Repair. He no longer does auto repair, but he doesn't do sign removal either. See? We have a downtown, too.

We don't need streetlights. We already have the stars, thank you very much. What do you mean, 'What are stars?'

You have gangs in the city. Every now and then, somebody loses an ear, a few fingers or a loved one. Ha! We have gangs, too. Our gangs eat the field mice. Bet your gangs won't do that for you.

Don't be shocked if you see a free-range skunk waddling across our front lawn on the way over there. We might not have major league baseball, but who says we can't have a mascot? And our theatre nights don't cost us much. Most of the crickets and lightening bugs play for free.

Sure, I'll mow the lawn. Remind me next month.

By the way, it's called a septic tank, not a skeptic tank. And yes, Irma Bombeck was right. And so are the weeds.

Every Monday morning I go for a hike. I tie up my laces. I put on my cap. And I grab hold of two heavy bags. Then I walk. And walk. And walk. And just when I feel like I can carry the bags no farther, I reach the end of the driveway. Yes, Monday is garbage day.

Out here, we ride our mowers and push our brooms. In the city, we hear you do the reverse.

You go to the grocery store to get your food. We cut out the middle man. We pick our own raspberries (both black and red) out back. And out front. And down the hill. And over in the woods.

We grow our own apples; in fact, the trees might give fruit by next year...hopefully.

And when we're in the mood for chicken, we sit silently at the property line with a hatchet, waiting for a stray bird to accidentally wandering under the fence. Or we drive to town for some KFC.

It's true. The nearest grocery store is seven miles away. But it takes me only seven minutes to get there...which is how long it took me to get out of the condo parking lot when I lived in the city.

We don't need bars. We have bonfires. The action gets pretty hot, especially when we have plenty of wood to burn. And who needs alcohol when you can just stand downwind from the fire?

We don't worry too much about breathing in pollution. There's not much of that around here. But we do keep our mouths closed when the mosquitoes are swarming.

Lady bugs are very pretty, but not when there are 30,000 of them squeezing their way into your walls. If only they ate mosquitoes

We have mice. You have rats. Mice are cuter.

Too bad they don't eat mosquitoes.

Sure I commute. What do you think we have a staircase for?

Don't get me wrong, the city's a great place for theatre, basketball and fancy restaurants that serve you itsy bitsy morsels on huge white plates with sweeping splashes of colored sauces.

But have you ever noticed how very few depictions of paradise include skyscrapers, traffic lights and hot dog vendors? Come pay us a visit and you can enjoy paradise all to yourself...if you don't mind sharing it with the chickens, the skunk, the crickets, the mice and the mosquitoes.

Excuse me now. I have a mouse trap to empty