Now that I'm old (like my parents were when I was little - ha!), I finally get it. I appreciate the value of an empty field, a pecan grove, and a ramshackle barn with no other buildings in sight.
I don't know if this happened because I've witnessed a lot of growth in my lifetime, so I've seen what-used-to-be fields turn into hotel parking lots. Or if it's because I moved to the South where they still have vast areas of untouched space, and I kind of like it. Or maybe it's because I'm just getting older and you start to reminisce about anything and everything as that happens...even empty fields sowed with soy beans.
Don't get me wrong, I am a suburban girl, through and through, and I don't truly see that ever changing. I like my conveniences a little too much. In fact, when we moved here from our last home, I lamented the fact that the 24-hour grocery store, Walmart, and Lowes were no longer only a mile from our home. They were a whopping 10 minute drive instead. (Seriously, there were almost tears.)
But in the four years we've lived here, they've built a 24-hour grocery store and Lowes within a 5 minute drive of my house, and I have a feeling Walmart is not too far behind. (I don't even like going to Walmart (and rarely do), but that doesn't seem to stop me from wanting one near my house.)
We chose our home based on lots of things: school zone (primarily), price (of course), and location to conveniences (a big one for us). Proximity to work was part of the location factor.
One of the charms of living where I live is that I have a measly 10 minute commute, on local roads, with minimal traffic. I would even go so far as to say that I love my commute to work. Depending on the time of year, and the route I choose, I get to travel on some of the most scenic roads in my little suburban town. In the springtime, the curvy roads are lined with dogwood trees, cherry blossoms, and azaleas. In the summer time, the fields are lined with corn and soy beans plants. In the fall, those fields are full of pretty, little white puffballs (don't let them lie to you, I still think cotton is king down here!). I pass multiple pecan groves next to which people pull their cars over so they can
It doesn't hurt that there's one of these on the way to my office either:
Another factor that played into location was our proximity to the interstate. Our house is barely a mile as the crow flies to the interstate, but no more than a five minute drive.
I know this isn't desirable for everyone, but I love it. (I'd say "we", but I don't want to speak for my country-born-and-raised husband.)
Basically, all my life I've been a big fan of "progress" and "forward thinking". I've always been a fan of living in the middle of relative hustle and bustle. I've never really wanted to live in a city, but also never in the country. Long story short, I love my suburbs.
I never stopped to think much about it until we pulled this tattered, old book off of the bookshelf to read at bedtime the other night:
This book was written in 1942 and won the Caldecott Award in 1943. Guess it goes without saying that it was written before my time, and yet the message is timeless. Let me give you a little synopsis. (It might be prudent to tell you that I will indeed spoil this book, so if you don't want to know how it ends...don't look ahead.)
It starts with a little house on a hill, built sturdily by hand, and deemed "Never Sellable" by the builder. It must remain in the family for all time.
It goes through the seasons, illustrating the beauty of spring, summer, fall, and winter from the vantage point on the hill. It can even see the city lights off in the distance and wonders to itself what it must be like to live there. One day, some surveyors come by, and "pretty soon" they've built a road right next to the little house. (Feel free to click to enlarge, the illustrations are amazing.)
A few "pretty soons" later, the little house finds itself in the middle of not just a road, but a booming urban area complete with skyscrapers, subway, elevated trains, roads, and people too busy to even notice the little house as they pass by it. Until one day, a family does stop...because the woman recognizes it as the house where her grandmother used to play.
So the family decides to have the little house checked out and after receiving a "Good as New" rating, they rescue it from the grips of heavy urbanization. The effort tied up traffic for hours as they jacked it up and hauled it off in hopes of finding the perfect new home for it.
And then they found it. The perfect little spot on a hill.
Finally, the little house was happy again, and it no longer wondered about the city.
Clearly, this is a very biased, very strong commentary on urbanization. Obviously, I know people who love living in cities. I know people who love living in the country. Me? I love living somewhere in between. But what got me about this book is the fact that things change.
Pretty soon, I might not be able to see the corn and cotton growing on the way to work. Pretty soon, those pecan trees might be nothing but a memory.
Pretty soon, I realized that "progress" isn't necessarily so great.
You see, those fields of corn & cotton, and those groves of pecan trees...lots of them have these in them:
There's no telling what the future holds for my commute. I have a feeling it will have something to do with this "progress" that I have held so closely to my heart for so many years.
One thing is certain though, my kids will hear my "I remember when's..." from the backseat of the car.
They already do.