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Let Us Now Praise Little Villages

Heard the voice of the silence, in the evening
In the long cool summer nights

In the outskirts, after living for decades in the cities, it may seem like less is happening around you, and it is, but this is not at all a bad thing.

Since there are fewer people, the people that are living near you in the outskirts, be it town, village, or hamlet are more vivid. This is especially true if they are vivid in the first place such as those sporting full-body tattoos and/or long, very long, passages of scripture tattooed across their breasts, around the back, and evidently down the spine. Like I said, vivid.

At the same time, there is a strong normality so bland, so low-key, that one would flee from it if it weren’t so restful and so reassuring and so honest.

Case in point: Purchase a bag of almonds at a street market. A simple transaction over in a moment. Getting home you take our the almonds and notice the printed tag that seals the bag of “Queen of the Valley Chili & Lemon Almonds.” On the back of the tag is a short message from the family the owns and sustains the almond orchard. It’s signed, “Marie, Joseph, Emily & ‘Lil’ Marie” in a plain and simple manner with no smear of green pretense nor taint of some corporate marketing department’s focus-grouped palaver.

A family, an orchard, a product. By Us, “Marie, Joseph, Emily & ‘Lil’ Marie.”

Life among normal people here on the outskirts.

A good deal.

I pity the cities.

Little village baby, ain’t large enough to be a town
From a little village baby, ain’t large enough to be a town
Gotta get away from the city
It’s gonna bring you down

Heard the voice of the silence, in the evening
In the long cool summer nights
Heard the voice of the silence, in the evening
In the long cool summer nights
Telling me not to worry
Everything’s gonna be all right

There’s only two kinds of truth
Baby let’s get it straight from the start
There’s only two kinds of truth
Let’s get it straight from the start
It’s all what you believe
Baby in your head and your heart

Heard the bells ringing
Voices singing soft and low
Heard the bells ringing
Voices are singing soft and low
Way up in the mountain, little village in the snow

Raining in the forest
Just enough to magnetize the leaves
Raining in the forest
Just enough to magnetize the leaves
We’ll go walking baby with the moonlight shining down through the trees

Little village, way up on the mountainside
Little village baby, way up on the mountainside
Way across the ocean with you by my side

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • KellyM February 23, 2021, 9:50 AM

    Yup. Grew up in rural northern Vermont, and although I am now in SF I still buy my maple syrup from a family operation. Known them all my life. No fuss, no muss. I send an email, place the order, send a check. They know I’m good for it.

  • julie February 23, 2021, 10:44 AM

    My dad was from a small town, just barely a blip along the road way out in the Palouse. Grandma’s house was next door to the post office/ dime store, where we little’uns could go by ourselves and for less than a dollar pick out a treasure trove of candies and maybe a squirt gun or a jump rope, then walk down the street a couple blocks to fish in the crick or play at the church playground. The only real danger was crossing the highway that split the town in two, where the big rigs would blow through at high speed to get from one place to another.

    We didn’t live there, just visited from time, to time, but my heart still goes back. Country life isn’t perfect; it’s still humans, after all. But when it’s good, it’s really, really good.

  • Kat in Indiana February 23, 2021, 12:29 PM

    I grew up in a small town here in Indiana and was married there. At one time the joke was there were more hogs in the county than people. I now live in a much larger city/town that has more seniors in the graduating class than the entire population of the hometown.. I needed my marriage certificate to get my New and Improved Indiana driver’s license because after 36 years of marriage someone HAS to have proof I changed my name…but I digress. Called the county clerk, she immediately found it and has it ready to send. $2 and a SASE.
    In my current county…take a number, go get lunch, maybe we’ll have it ready.
    I guarantee my property taxes are higher here…

  • Casey Klahn February 23, 2021, 1:14 PM

    Greetings, julie. My fam & I now live near the Palouse. Same buttes but laid out differently.

    Not 1 stoplight in the whole county.

    Gerard, I did dwell in that Emerald City and the surrounding burbs for the better part fo 20 years. You know the one. Last year, my son & I went for a tour west of the mountains. My “Home Side,” the one I grew up in (in a city of 11,000 at that time). I rented a muscle car to ease the strain of a short trip, and to try to make something fun of the mess called lockdown. We drove through DT Tacoma, and then Seattle, just for the hell of it. I wanted to see Covid and BLM?Antifa Seattle. CHAZ-era Seattle. I figured that having a fast car would give me some edge in a zombie apocalypse. It was cool, and fun. We parked right in front of Starbucks on Pike Place. I think I told this story here before, but the whole little village vs the bog city thing got me thinking.

    The Big City? What a fukn hell hole. Now I want to go to the Denver area in the Spring. I will make sure to skirt the city.

    America is an apparent nightmare right now. Good to remember the towns and villages abide in some form of sanity. Good post.

  • Roy Lofquist February 23, 2021, 1:32 PM

    A hamlet is a village without a church.

  • EX-Californian Pete February 23, 2021, 1:34 PM

    Hear hear!

    Great article about a great lifestyle- small town living. Nothing can compare to living in a small, friendly little village in a rural area. The people in my little village are real salt-of-the-earth folks that still carry on the “pioneer” mindset, are friendly and helpful, and we respect one another- maybe due to the fact that if you act like a jerk, the whole town will know about it and gossip over it within mere minutes.
    And living in a wooded, rural area is a million times better than being surrounded by concrete, traffic, graffiti, trash, homeless, and noise. Plus, in a “SHTF” situation, what better place to be?

  • andre February 23, 2021, 1:55 PM

    Very little competition with Van. Beautiful song.

  • ghostsniper February 23, 2021, 2:27 PM

    I saw a dood today. First person I’d seen in at least 2 weeks. Maybe 3. Never seen this dood before, he was from the post office about 12 miles from here, he brought a rifle scope I had ordered. 3-9X40 if you’re interested. The mount was wrong, so back online tonight to find the right one. I got picatinny but need weaver. sigh

    The snow is melting and will mostly be gone by the weekend – good bye old friend, was nice knowing you for a brief spell. It was 55 today, the warmest it’s been since Nov. T-shirt and shorts weather. Walked to the end of the workshop to analyze where I’m going to install my new solar panel and 2 deer were standing there looking at me. I froze. And just looked. Magnificent creatures. Maybe 30 feet away. Almost scary. Their face looks weird up close. Like something from another planet. They flicked their tails then bolted. I’m going to have to built a stand out of 4×4 PT wood to support the panel and it must be able to expand as I add new panels, and the angle of the panels must be adjustable as well. cinch

    Got a lot of stuff to get done this year so spring needs to go ahead and get started, so I can. This is going to be a good year here on the compound and the rest of the world can go straight to hell on a rocket sled for all I care. Almost everything I want or need is within a mile or so of here, and I’m glad.

  • gwbnyc February 23, 2021, 3:31 PM

    born NE ohio- Amish country, orchards, maple trees. Middlefield, Chardon, Burton. in highschool we’d collect apples, take them to the press and swap them for cider to sell- leaving out a gallon or two to dump some raisins in and let ‘em ramble into hooch-hood.

    still send a pint or quart of syrup to friends on occasion, packaged in the the old style, a tin container as found in paint stores, pint/quart/half gallon, these blazoned with the likeness of a cardinal.

  • julie February 23, 2021, 7:34 PM

    Casey, for all I know we may have crossed paths at some point or other. Had close family in Spokane for several years, and spent loads of time in/ near Pullman growing up. We lived on the coast though, Kent/ Auburn/ Federal Way. Here, there, everywhere, my people.

    Me, I haven’t lived in WA since the 90s, but have spent plenty of time in America’s corners and parts middle, too. I see my old NW homeland with new eyes now; when we drive up from barren desert lands, it seems like every patch of ground west of the Cascades is caught up in a life-or-death struggle with the relentless, ever-encroaching forest. If Seattle is ever abandoned, the wilderness will reclaim it in the blink of an eye.

  • Casey Klahn February 23, 2021, 8:21 PM

    The forest reclaims Seattle. That is a great thought. Cannot happen too soon for me!

  • Annie Rose February 24, 2021, 7:01 AM

    I laid my mom to rest last year in the little country cemetery in her tiny hometown overlooking the vast windswept prairie.

    Over 50 of my ancestors are buried there with many other pioneers who settled that area of Oklahoma in the Salt Creek area. One nearby town was visible over 30 miles away and another could be seen 20 miles away. The meadowlarks were singing in a nearby clump of scrub trees.

    The town has been dying since my mom lived there, and she escaped as soon as she could after high school to the big city. I spent weeks there every year of my childhood each summer visiting family, sweating in the 100+ degree dusty heat, and bored to death.

    After laying my mom to rest last year, we visited and had lunch with my mom’s siblings at the only place to eat in town, a literal hole-in-the-wall cafe. The fare of the day was chicken and noodles served over mashed potatoes, a local favorite. It was served with the same sense of desperation that has permeated that town since I can remember.

    These are very hard-working people. We shared a room, elbow to elbow, with farmers, ranchers, field hands, and cowboys. Some of these people were related to those who years before pitched in to bring in a relative’s wheat harvest as he lay dying of pneumonia, just so his wife could financially survive for a little while longer. The county is comprised of ranchers and farmers trying to hold on, and those who struck gold through fracking on their lands, although that is at a complete standstill for now. My uncle told us of a gigantic marijuana farm down the road from one of their farms that now lights up the night sky with its security lights, tall barbed wire fence, and security guards in towers. No one knows who owns it.

    Something from those childhood summer visits has baked into my soul, I guess. I like to feel the earth baking around me in the summer and to listen through open windows at night to crickets singing as I fall asleep. I enjoy the feel of dirt as I plant my garden. I gaze up at the light-polluted stars of my suburban home and try to imagine the glorious Milky Way I saw each summer in my mom’s hometown. I humbly remember and thank my ancestors who tried to eke out a life in that dry, red dirt and passed along their gifts of hard work and perseverance to me. There is much to learn from small towns, even those that are dying.

  • Vanderleun February 24, 2021, 7:55 AM

    What a wonderful memoir, Annie Rose…. and all the rest as well.

  • James ONeil February 24, 2021, 1:06 PM

    I’ve been lucky enough to have spent most of my life in the piney woods or in the taiga and on the tundra.

    A fair amount of time in the suburbs but only 3 or 4 years in The City (Everyone should, I think, at least for a short time, gives you the bottom of the yardstick to judge, and appreciate, the rest.).

    I’m not knocking cities, nor city dwellers, we need them. Cities equal, almost by definition, civilization. To have a Hermitage you need a St. Petersburg. The Globe theater needed a London.

    However cities, like houses built to last, need cleaning and refurbishing on occasion.

    I went back and added the phrase, built to last, as an afterthought.

    Perhaps that’s part of the problem. We don’t build to last any more. The woke world, the abolishment of history, globalism, great reset, you won’t own anything and you’ll be happy, t’ain’t your’s, t’weren’t never your’s, ain’t gonna be, so why build to last, plan for the future? Bang it together, pass it on through. Inspection? We don’t need no stinkin’ inspection, close enough for government work.

    Guess I’ll throw another log on the fire and go out and push some snow around.

    I surely would like to visit the Smithsonian again, spend 8 or 18 hours, ignoring the ‘modern’ exhibits, but I can’t see that happening in the conceivable future.

    I’ll have to remember to tell my savage teenage granddaughter what a grand museum it was, after one of her practical ballistics lessons.

  • gwbnyc February 24, 2021, 2:18 PM

    Roy Lofquist-

    any reference to etymology piques my interest, thus:

    “hamlet (n.)
    early 14c., from Old French hamelet “small village,” diminutive of hamel “village,” itself a diminutive of ham “village,” from Frankish *haim or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *haimaz “home” (from PIE root *tkei- “to settle, dwell, be home”); for ending, see -let. Especially a village without a church.”

    too,
    from my reading, OE/A-S “Buckingham” :: ”the home of the kin of Bucca”; and a favorite of mine- “Nottingham”/“the home of the kin of Snot”.

    thanks for the tour, it is much appreciated and the bit of aspergers I possess is slaked for a spell.

  • LP February 24, 2021, 3:45 PM

    I live in a town so small, we have to go to the next town over to shop, because we’re just woods and water. We have a town hall and a fire station and a post office that are all open sometimes, but not regular hours. I’ve noticed that on more than one occasion lately the town clerk, or the postal clerk has given us a wink and a nod, given us a pass, let us know that you don’t always have to go through the hoops that Uncle Sam wants you to go through. The other thing I’ve noticed is that they are very kind.

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