It isn't often that I take time to appreciate the countryside. Its qualities are things I notice only when they aren’t present - like when I’m wandering around the city, stuck in traffic, or smelling stinky city smells. But to contradict myself, I am noticing the beauties of the countryside and appreciating it more and more. It often happens when it is screaming at me in the face - through a color-splashed sunset, or an unmanned "leave $5 in the mailbox" fresh flower stand at the end of someone's drive. It's incredibly hard to narrow down the things I love about country living, but I have chosen what means most to me. At a time when most people my age are living
their lives in sky-high apartments or spending weekends at IKEA for city dwelling furnishing, I am holding true to my countryside roots!
The phrase 'farm to table' is, I think, a phrase born from the city; because here in the countryside that's just how food is expected to be: from the farm. I think it took me time to actually appreciate this, because I definitely took it for granted when I was younger. There is just the right balance of farmers markets, grocery stores, and farm stands in my area. Each place is a go-to for its own reason. It makes it easy - especially in the warmer, in-season months - to cook and come up with creative and healthy dishes.
Fresh grown herbs and a diverse gamut of spices is something I depend on daily when I am cooking. Vegetables and fruits during the growing season are another staple, especially for dinners or smoothie making.
I really do appreciate my morning commute as a time to think. My morning commute has long stretches of open road; horse farms; foggy fields; sunrises and the occasional deer. I don't take it for granted - even if I am driving to work. There is rarely any traffic (usually I get stuck behind a school bus) and the road is wide, surrounded by green trees and pretty views of open land. Last year I even got to drive over a covered bridge every day - a rarity, even around here!
Even better than commuting? Weekend drives.
Something about a small, store-front lined street with lamp posts and cobblestones appeals to me. I love all of the little spots near and far from home; although each one is a short drive, they are always worth a look. I'm still finding new things every time I go. I think my #1 favorite this year goes to
Princeton - I love everything about that place and would love to live there someday.
In a typical main street town you can almost always find bits of the city: i.e. a Starbucks, maybe parking meters, a couple of name brand stores, and historical buildings. What makes them different is the mom and pop stores, the farm stands, the fresh flowers that are laid out in window boxes and pots out side of store fronts and doors. Little cafes and lunch counters. Ice cream shops and eclectic tarot card readers. Historic hotels-turned-restaurants and Revolutionary War era inns (hey, George Washington "slept" here!).
Summer nights (or spring, or fall - not so much winter) are meant to be spent outdoors. My mom's garden is an entertainer's eden - it begins on the deck and spills out into the surrounding corners of the property. It is adorned with fairy lights and citronella torches and candles. In the purple twilight of a summer evening, the illumination is just so lovely. I love how isolated and tucked away a gathering can feel at home - we are in our own little world and the rest of civilization feels like miles away!
You can't really capture this in a city, unless you're on someone's rooftop. While that has its certain edginess to it, I'd take a garden party any day. We often round out the night with music, a bonfire for s'mores, and a tray of tea and coffees to accompany dessert. We've had everything from going away parties, graduations, tea parties, surprise birthdays, to family reunions.
I also love being in a place where nature - although routine for my eyes - is everywhere. Birds, flowers, deer, full moons, hilly fields, creeks and rivers, foliage, and the soft wind. I can take a walk or drive and stretch my eyes nice and far. I hear birds chirping in the spring mornings and owls hooting during dark winter nights. I can look outside my window and see every shade of green possible. There are dozens of horse farms less than a mile away. The stars at night are bright and clear - nothing is obstructing their brightness. Barns are plentiful. Hills in the distance are winding and blue. There are lots of hidden drives and creeks and bridges. I could never, ever, ever tire of the flowers - wild or not.
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what do you love about your neck of the woods!?