The only times in my life when I have lived anywhere other than the wide-open spaces of rural America were the few short years I attended college. I didn't enjoy the constraints of urban life then, and I sure haven't mellowed with age, but for the past week (and probably for some time longer) I have become an urban dweller as I stay with my oldest son who is hospitalized out of state with a serious infection.
I sleep at his one-bedroom apartment at night, get up early to avoid the city traffic, and spend the entire day in his hospital room, only to return to his apartment late in the evening (again, to avoid the city traffic), and repeat my routine every day. I'm beginning to realize many of the things I take for granted back home, but, I won't anymore.
Back home, in the country, I get up at daylight and head four miles to the little convenience store where the locals gather to solve most of the world's problems before most of the world knows they have a problem.  It takes about five minutes to make the trip.  Occasionally, I'll meet a vehicle, but usually it's just me and the dog with the road to ourselves.  Here in the city, it's about four miles from Seth's apartment to the hospital, but it takes me about 25 minutes to make the trip.  I stop at a convenience store for coffee, but the locals that gather there look like they cause most of the world's problems as opposed to solving them. I burn three times as much fuel to make the same mileage trip as back home, because I have to wait two minutes at every stoplight. We don't have stoplights back home.
In addition to using a lot more fuel, I'm wasting a lot more water here in the city as well.  When I'm out on the farm all day, I answer nature's call when and where I get the urge. Here in town I'd get arrested if I did that, but it sure seems like a waste of a lot of water.  I'm pretty sure this waste of fuel and water are two problems that can be solved by the boys back at the local coffee place.
I miss seeing the stars at night, too.  Here in the city, the lights from street lamps and business signs make it dang-near impossible to know whether the night skies are clear or not.  It makes one have to rely on the local weather forecast to anticipate rain, frost or inclement weather. And, believe me, the city forecasters aren't a bit more accurate than the ones back home.
I haven't seen a cow in days – other than the one that almost ran over me this morning on my way to the hospital. This little city has “round-a-bout” traffic intersections. You know, those that are perfectly round where 18 streets come together at once, but no one has even a clue as to who has the right-of-way. No wonder there are lots of shootings in the cities. I'm kinda glad I didn't bring my gun, or I might be one of the shooters.
I miss my dog. He would have a hoot here, if they'd let a cow dog roam the streets without a leash. I've seen some little lap dogs that would make a nice snack for Grizz, but I bet he'd want to play with them for a while before he ate them.  Much like he does with little field mice.  
I miss walking on wet grass. I miss the smells of the country – freshly mowed hay, freshly tilled soil, cow manure, burning brush piles and rain. I miss silence, where the only sounds are those that occur naturally – cows bawling, birds singing and the neighbor across the creek yelling at me to get my cows out of his field, now!
But the thing that I miss more than anything else are the people of the country.  People who wave at you when they meet you on a narrow country road. Neighbors who check on your cattle while you're gone and keep an eye open for who's at your house that shouldn't be. Friends that offer to do anything that needs to be done while you're away to care for a sick family member. Or the local veterinarian who knows your place and your cattle well enough to simply call him and tell him you've got a cow down at the north place and he tells you he'll take care of it – 'don't worry and just take care of your son.'
That's what really makes the country way of life one that everyone wants.  On second thought, I guess living in the city wouldn't be so bad if I could just take all my friends and neighbors with me – but, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to go, either.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University.  He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker.  To contact Jerry about his books or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting and clicking on 'Contact Us'.


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