Friday, December 12, 2014

Goin' Into Town

Most days I write about the simplistic and very romantic perfection that wine country life can be. But there is a price to be paid for all this open space and bucolic pleasure, and that is that in order to have it, you can't live too close to town. 

We actually live 20 miles away from the nearest small town, 60 miles away from the nearest medium-sized one, and 120 miles away from a metropolis large enough to have things like big furniture stores or a Macy's.

The actual reality of the weekly trip into the small town and the twice-yearly trip to the metropolis is one of the things I wish someone had told me about before I moved to the country; while it would not have changed my mind, I certainly would have been less romantic about it. 

For some reason, I saw my in-town days as vignettes, with me strolling the streets of the boutique-y parts of our lovely downtown, stopping at gourmet food stores while maybe sipping a latte and enjoying all the pretty things in the store windows. 

Only that's not really how it is. Going into town for the day really consists of driving to many different large stores on the other end of town, pulling in and out of parking spaces, facing traffic stress and lugging bags of stuff into the car. And it pretty much takes an entire day, if I want to save gas and make it a weekly trip.

And that's the dirty little the secret about rural life:  When you live out of town, your days in town are spent dashing from one place to the next, in order to make the most of your time and gas money. No leisurely strolling here, folks. It's a Supply Replenishment run.

Not my home, but you get the point.  Country here, city way over there.

All this driving does make me appreciate the efforts many urban planners are putting forth to create pedestrian and bike-friendly cities, where residents can actually get the things they need without having to own a car.  But to live in an urban environment as it is now, you have to be willing to give up the biggest pleasures of being out of town: seeing the Milky Way at night, having a property large enough to keep livestock, grow food and have an orchard, and last but not least, being able to be outdoors without the constant drone of lawn mowers, police helicopters, traffic and noisy neighbors.  

That's a huge sacrifice, and not one I'm willing to make right now.

And so, at least at this point, we will continue living out here in the country and just hitch up that old wagon (aka the car) and do a 10-stop Errand Day once a week or so. 

And on those days when I need to head into town, I leave early yet still seem to always get back home later than I'd like.  A much better writer than I am, Robert Frost, once wrote about kind of journey, saying in part:

 "I have errands to run and promises to keep.  And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep."

Sometimes, on the days when I'd rather be here on my quiet hilltop than fighting for parking spaces in town, I would definitely agree with those sentiments.


  1. That is so crazy! I don't think it's possible to be 100 miles from a Macy's in Ohio. I KNOW it's impossible to be ten miles from a Wal Mart! I can imagine how without an organized itinerary, visits to town could be a major pain. I often wonder how I'll really feel living in the country. I don't worry about the drive to work (wouldn't ever be longer than 45 min-which I know hardly qualifies as a commute in California), but I wonder about the errands. Would I really drive to get my coffee in the morning? Would I be able to be organized enough at the grocery to not forget odds and ends? I'll probably be needing lots of tips from you! Do you have to bring coolers? Or are you able to get those types of things closer to home?

    1. Sometimes I do bring coolers along, because there is nowhere closer to home to get anything, except at the winery, which serves great food (and is therefore often our restaurant and/or takeout place when all else fails). Many, many times I've realized I'm out of something and going into town for it just isn't possible at the time, so I have to make do with what's here or live without it. I've made some VERY creative substitutions for all sorts of things since we moved here. Maybe I'll write them all down here someday, some were very funny and they did NOT all work out, haha.