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Hope move to rural America leads to ‘horse sense’

  • Saturday, September 18, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

Here’s another interesting COVID-19 trend to ponder: More Americans are leaving big cities and the suburbs to live in rural communities, according to NextAvenue.com.

I hope the trend grows because it would be good for the American psyche. As it goes, the move to the country makes a lot of sense to some people. In rural America, you can buy more land and bigger houses for a lot less money. That’s great for retirees. With crime on the uptick in big cities, more Americans are seeking low-crime rural areas. And now that remote work has become common, why not move into the wilderness and enjoy nature every day?

My house is located on the edge of the suburbs on a tract of land surrounded by trees. While the suburbs are on one side of my humble homestead, rural America is immediately on the other. My rural neighbors have long been suspicious of me. I barely know how to start, let alone fix, a tractor motor. Worst of all, I hire people to do work on my house, instead of doing it myself.

It’s hard for me to forget one regrettable instance in which I got a flat tire on my wheelbarrow. I strapped the thing into my sedan’s trunk and headed up the long hill to my neighbor’s house for help. As I neared his home, I saw him with his friends: the first friend was the guy who bulldozed my driveway, the second was the guy who painted my house and the third was the guy who gave me an estimate on my gutters.

I saw in their eyes a look of sickening distress — a distress that turned to disgust when they saw a gun rack in the rear window of my Nissan Maxima, which I’d installed with the hope of ingratiating myself with them.

My suburban neighbors on the other side are equally suspicious of me. I told them I’m a writer who works out of his home, but they are certain I’m in the witness protection program. Suburban people don’t understand rural folk. Suburbans are sheltered from many of life’s difficulties. A man is celebrated, not shunned, by other suburban men for hiring a landscaper to mow his lawn.

If our government’s reckless cycle of spending and debt eventually causes everything to come crashing down, my suburban neighbors will likely lose their jobs and their homes, but my rural neighbors will carry on without missing a beat. Rurals are self-sufficient and fiercely independent. They grow and hunt their own food. They build their own homes. They preserve the ingenious “can-do” American spirit, never backing down from a problem until they resolve it.

This was once the land of hardy pioneers who only wanted to be left alone to create their own homesteads and freely pursue their happiness. That sentiment, no longer alive or well in urban America, still thrives in rural America. People who resettle in rural communities soon realize they must be more self-reliant. Big-city hospitals are far away. The niceties of suburban malls require a long drive.

But working with your hands, fending for yourself and reconnecting with nature has a way of making you sensible. We used to call it “horse sense.” Goodness knows our country is running short on horse sense these days. Hopefully, as more Americans relocate to rural America, we’ll get more of it.

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

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