When Chub and I bought our farm, relatives were the first to ask, "Aren’t you lonely way out there in the country?"
We’ve heard "way out there" - or "here" - "in the country" in many ways:
A young hiker exclaimed, "Ice water! And it’s way out here in the country!"
Relatives came to spend the night way out here, so they brought bacon, eggs, bread and blankets. Of course we had all of that, but Chub sneaked off to the Deer Park Store without telling them that I forgot to buy coffee.
A visitor came in the house, stood silently in front of the picture window, viewing trees, cows in pastures and cotton ball clouds in the blue sky.
Then she said, "When you do, finally, get here, it’s not so bad."
Aunt Louise from California awoke with a headache and complained, "At home I can chase a morning headache with a glass of warm water with lemon in it, but of course you don’t have a lemon!" I ran to the refrigerator and got one! For years afterward, I was never without a lemon.
City friends asked, "Aren’t you afraid, way out there in the country?" I replied, "No, I’m afraid in the city, but not out here. We neighbors know each other well and are on call when there’s a need."
"What about fire?"
When our trash fire once spread and destroyed a shed and contents, a little boy who was a quarter-mile away alerted his parents in time for 14 volunteer firemen to pump water from the pond and save our home.
Sudden injury of illness? It took 13 minutes for an ambulance to get from here to town. Once a helicopter crew from St. Louis landed and took off from our front lawn.
Thieves? They’re likely too smart to get trapped down this dead-end, one-lane country road.
Yes, we sometimes have problems way out here. Trees fall across the road, snowdrifts or high water could close our driveway. But those are once-in-a-long-time things that have kept us isolated only a few times.
Snowdrifts are the most difficult, but Chub and I almost always got to our jobs in town. He made a path through pastures and woodlands on which we bypassed drifts by tractor.
When we were children, four miles from town, snowdrifts once made Jim and me late for school. "Don’t worry, Mrs. Meyers," the principal said, "their classmate who lives across the street didn’t get here at all."
Because there are many miles of wires for our telephone and electricity, I keep kerosene in four old oil lamps and flashlights by the bed. We need them once or twice a year. I have to set flashing clocks more often than that, but an antique wall clock, wound once a week, is my "old reliable."
Recently, a windstorm sent a large tree sprawling across the dead-end road, and my neighbor couldn’t get to her 10 o’clock appointment. A neighbor on the town side of the fallen tree took the young woman to work. She parked her car at roadside, walked around the tree and was at her desk on time.
In the four years that we lived here before we had telephone service, we did more church and family things instead of clubs, committees and teams. That was a bit like the life earlier residents of this farm must have had. They survived way out here in the country without "a glass of warm water with lemon in it!"