Nostalgia for the Country Life

October 12, 2012

“I guess I have a bad case of the American nostalgia for the clean, simple country life as opposed to the complicated world of the city.”
— Norman Rockwell, from Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People by Maureen Hennessey and Anne Knutson

“It is in the heart of the city that one writes the most inspired pages about the country.”
— Jules Renard, from The Journal of Jules Renard, edited and translated by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget

Eastern Washington with view of Mount Hood

I admit feeling nostalgia for the country life, but I am now a city person, unwilling to give up ready access to libraries, neighborhood eateries and coffee shops, museums, culture.  I do appreciate the space and slower pace of the country, though.  This expansiveness and solitude seems especially apparent in eastern Washington, where the countryside is wide, open range rather small homestead farms.

Fences and sagebrush along Hwy 97 between Yakima and Goldendale, WA

Horses in the arid landscape

View from a rest stop along Hwy 97 in eastern Washington

I was reminded of the dearth of things to do in rural areas when I happened upon an odd sight at this rest stop along Highway 97 near Goldendale.  I wondered why this couple had plopped a couple of lawn chairs out in the sagebrush overlooking a dry, arid landscape — were they working on their tans?  Contemplating an attack on windmills like Don Quixote?

A seemingly odd place for an afternoon’s repose

But when there’s not much to do, you make your own fun.  Here in the mini-gorge below the rest stop is an historic road called “The Maryhill Loops Road.”  With its 25 curves in less than 4 miles, it is the destination for speeding cars and racing skateboards!  On this day, car racers were running trials for a Hill Climb event.  There was plenty of free seating!

Racing cars on the Maryhill Loops Road

Maryhill Loops Road

A feeling of infinity on the horizon line, with windmills

You just never know what you’ll see when you take a drive in the country!

6 Responses to “Nostalgia for the Country Life”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    Not much to do in the country? Oh, my! Perhaps, if you’ve moved out there for the view, with a fat bank account and plenty of folks to chop your wood and maintain your fence. 😉

    I suppose I’ve just met too many folks who are nostalgic about the country, rather than in love with the country. It’s different.

    But that road – oh, my. There’s one in our Hill Country called The Three Sisters (or, sometimes, the Twisted Sisters). The scenery is different, but the joy of the motorcyclists and road racers is palpable.

    • Rosemary Says:

      You are right to call me out on “the dearth of things to do in the country.” Growing up on a farm is A LOT of work — endless. We didn’t have a car or driver to take us to a lake for swimming, the library when we wanted, to a friend’s home — so, stuck at home, we had to make our own fun. That has its own rewards, but I’m just saying. . .
      When I return home to rural Minnesota now, I dislike that one has to DRIVE for miles to go anywhere — the library, town for groceries, movies, visiting friends. Gas is so expensive — I love the mass transit options in the city. Plus, so many libraries, museums, gardens, readings, bookstores, etc. etc. etc. Not sure I could go back to living on a farm.

      • shoreacres Says:

        Oh, my! I didn’t mean to call you out. I was thinking about the people I know who decide to “play country”, move, and spend a fortune paying other people to do all the work that has to be done while they tell everyone how satisfying “the country life” is. 😉

        We’re just going in different directions. I’ve lived in the middle of Houston and the Houston suburbs, Berkeley, and Salt Lake City, and I’ve spent a good bit of time in New York. The advantages are real. On the other hand, I’m older now, and the cities have changed dramatically. I much prefer the friendliness and peace of small towns, and if I could afford to buy a place in the country I would.

        I always laugh when geography raises its head. My best friend here in Texas lives five hours away – on the other side of San Antonio. I go over the see her for the weekend and don’t think a thing of it! I run into downtown Houston every now and then for this or that – an hour, given the traffic.It’s just part of life.

  2. Chris Says:

    Great photos…I have mixed feelings about the windmills…we so need the wind power instead of using so much of the fossil fuels but they do detract from the scenery in those wide open spaces, don’t they? But we certainly can’t afford not to use them and take advantage of all that free power from the wind, can we?

  3. we are weighing up the – NOT driving for hours against the wide open spaces, the city infrastructure against a real garden … it’s complicated

  4. shoreacres Says:

    Six years down the road, I’m even more convinced that, given a choice, I’d take country over city. Cities have grown progressively less livable, and my love for the land as land has grown. Still, age throws yet another factor into the equation: the availability of health care. The irony is that many friends in very small towns get better care than those snuggled up to our huge hospitals, with their overcrowding and demands of the governmental bureaucracy.

    Some issues just never go away, do they? They just change.

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