My son recently asked me to read the city mouse and his cousin the country mouse. That story always reminds me of my cousin Debbie.
She is actually the reason I’m alive. Really. She’s the only other being outside of my parents and the good Lord I can say that about. But it’s true. When my mom found out her mom was pregnant, she told my dad: “if we’re going to have another one, let’s do it now so they can grow up together.”
And they did. And we did. Just two months apart in age.
When we were kids, Deb lived in the city. I lived in the country. In the summers and over long holidays we’d take turns staying at each other’s house.
When she came to our farm, we’d go on nature hikes and wade in the creek. We’d build forts and camp out with the coyotes.
When I went to stay with Deb in the city, we go to the mall and Dairy Queen. We went swimming and bike riding. We stayed up late watching Benny Hill!
Very different experiences but ones we both looked forward to. I recently came across a box of letters from Deb. We were pen pals our whole childhood. I’m so glad I kept them because they hold great memories of what was important and just plain silly in our lives.
Today Deb lives in the country and I live in the city. She tells me it’s a little weird living in the middle of nowhere. I tell her it’s weird living so close to your neighbors that they can hear me yelling at the kids!
I asked Deb to humor me with answering a few questions…
What are your top 2-3 memories from the days spent on our farm?
I remember shooting off fireworks at your house one summer. Mike [my brother] put a bottle rocket in both ends of the pipe that was hooked to the rope swing and then he swung the rope out over the lake. What he didn’t consider (or maybe he did), was that the pipe would swing around in a circle. We all hit the deck and took cover because we were afraid the bottle rockets would shoot out of the pipe directly at us. I think that was the same year that I had a roman candle backfire on me and burn the corner of my eye.
Recently, I just thought about the time that your mom bought us our very first makeup kit – not the dress-up kind of makeup – but the real grown up stuff. It was a red compact with blush, eye shadow and a mirror.
Did you guys have chickens at one time? [yes, we did] I seem to remember getting shocked by the electrical fence while collecting eggs.
I remember playing in the hay barn and I think you fell though the shoot in the floor. Boy, the country sure was a dangerous place growing up
Whenever I hear an old country song, I think about your mom making a homemade dinner in the kitchen with the radio playing in your living room.
What is it like living in the country now after growing up in the city?
As I drive down the country road, with rows of corn on each side of me and rolling hills ahead of me, I still say to myself “I can’t believe I live here”. Growing up, it was never a place I dreamt of living.
What one thing from city life do you miss the most?
I miss the convenience of being close to … everything.
What one thing from country life do you love the most?
I love the feeling of safety I have from living in such a small, rural area. I love that my children can go outside to play and I don’t have to monitor their every move in fear that someone might take them. I love the fact that total strangers will wave at you when you pass them in a car.
Do you still have bad dreams from the time we saw that gutted deer hanging in the smokehouse?
I don’t even remember the gutted deer but I am still afraid of coyotes. [a story for another time but basically while camping outside some coyotes came for a visit!]
If you had to live like they lived in the country a 100 years ago, what would be harder – no indoor plumbing or no Facebook?
Considering that my husband sells plumbing, it would be much more challenging for us if there was no indoor plumbing. I suppose he could sell out-houses.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell those young cousins about what life had in store for them?
There is a country song that answers this question perfectly (“If I could write a letter to me…”)… I would tell them that the best things in life are yet to come. I could go on but I think I might be getting too sappy.
My cousin was one of the dearest parts of my childhood and one of my best friends still to this day. She even lived with me for three years in college so we’ve been through just about everything…together.
Here’s hoping you have someone from your past still blessing your present.
Luv u cuz!