I don’t understand the word “country” as it’s used in today’s world. Sure, I love America and it’s a country. But when someone says “you’re country,” what does that mean? Country, like city, is a place. Not a lifestyle. Plenty of people living in the city love gardening, animals, and tending the earth. But they are “city.” There are also plenty of people living in the country that dream of sky-scrapers, loud noises, non-stop sirens, and taxi cabs. But if we can’t say “country,” then what is appropriate?
I was thinking about this as I was picking cherries today in the orchard, after I had cleaned out the barnyard. I felt very “country” but then decided that wasn’t the right term. Because I’ve lived in the city and dreamed of picking cherries from my orchard. Does that mean I was ci-ntry? That doesn’t work. So I’ve come up with a new scale – from 1 to 5 – to determine how “country” I’m feeling. Where would you land on the scale?
1 – Bunny Melon. Sure, you’re a world expert in flowers and live on a gorgeous country estate. But have you ever raked the driveway? And sitting down with the editor-in-chief of Country Living doesn’t mean you’ve mucked a stall that morning. Style over substance wins the day with this catagory.
2 – Elizabeth Bennet. While you may have a cook and chamber maid, you can still walk in the rain and match any man, tete-a-tete, at a country dance or London ball. You don’t mind sitting on the wet ground or picnicking with members of the local regiment. Style again wins, but you definitely could “make it work” if you had to.
3 – Olivia Walton. With 7 children, a randy husband, and live-in in-laws, your life can sure be difficult. But you come from hardy stock, don’t mind waking up early to make bread, and find it only appropriate to clean every dish in the sink before you go to bed. No matter the time. No matter the occasion. You’ve learned to love your life, care for your children, and remain the voice of reason within your community. While you can sure take care of yourself, without the help of your children (and their chores), it would be awful hard to keep up with everything.
4 – Sarah, Plain and Tall. Have you ever moved from Maine to Kansas, in your mid-foutries, to be a mail-order bride to a rancher? Gutsy (and a little crazy)! You have to learn how to care for children. Husbands. Animals and plants. But at the same time, you’re going to have to stand up to men, and a society, that has done it their way for far too long. Both strong and vulnerable, you have carved a life for yourself out of the dustbowl. Kudos.
5 – Caroline Ingalls. You too moved from relative comfort to the frontier. But you didn’t have a house waiting for you. And there were Indians. Indians unhappy with your presence. You raised 3 daughters, a few wayward boys, and nurtured a needy husband in the manner of our Nation’s great pioneer mothers. You’re the real deal! Harriet Oleson can’t bring you down.
Today was a 3. An Olivia Walton kind of day. Rough, and new to me, but not revolutionary. And she’s not “country.” She’s an inspiration. So next time, when you’re working hard or catching a horse, remember, you’re not just a label. You’re work walks in the same path of those who founded our country. And that’s a word I can believe in!