In two or three weeks I will have a new book available. Below is the introduction:
LOOKING AT LIFE FROM A RURAL PERSPECTIVE
Generalities are dangerous things. As soon as one makes an observation about a matter, and in doing so, tries to simplify things by making a general statement about it, he is instantly met with a chorus of opposing voices citing many instances where the generality is off-base.
Having said this, I will still make a bold statement involving what I have noticed to be two general perspectives of life: The view of living that comes from an urban perspective, as it differs from the view as coming from a rural perspective.
Certainly there are the exceptions, and certainly the two cultures of the rural and the urban have tended to blend together in the past decades. However, the differences remain distinct enough for me to notice that rural people have their own perspective on how they face life, and they have their own way of interpreting what is happening around them.
For example, the rural person is not so quick to adopt any new technology that comes around. He is conservative in this way.
Sometimes, because of this, the rural person is characterized by others as being backwards. It indeed may lead to this, but much of this hesitancy is because the country dweller needs to be more self-sufficient than the city dweller. When the new technology does not work properly or if it breaks down, the rural person is often left to figure it out for himself. It is more difficult for him to get technical assistance, and the lower rural wages often do not allow for hiring expensive repair men every time something happens. Before adopting something new, the country dweller needs to be convinced that not only will it work, but that it will also be dependable.
Rural people also have a very different view of our natural world. There are very many city dwellers who have a great and abiding love for nature and who love to go on a canoe trip or backpack into the deep woods. These people are usually very conscientious of their presence in the out-of-doors and are very careful not to disturb the natural balance of things. I commend them for their perspective. They feel like guests in a home and do not want to be a burden to the natural world.
Rural people, however, approach this from a slightly different point of view. They do not feel like guests in a home. They are home. Because of this, they feel more of a freedom to make use of what they find. They open the fridge to see if there is something to eat, and they do not feel inhibited to put their feet up on the coffee table. Country people hunt and gather from the wild, they cut the timber that they need, and they do not feel like they need to first ask permission or profusely offer excuses.
This does not necessarily mean that the rural way is a better way of doing things, for just as there are people who live like pigs in a sty in their own broken-down homes, there are rural people who treat all of the outdoors as if it were their personal property to take from it what they want, but who do not bother to replace or repair, and then finally use it as a dumping ground.
However, let me say that in general (I can already hear the dissenting voices), that the rural perspective of life tends to lean a little bit more toward a pragmatic way of looking at things, at least when it comes to the everyday business of living. “If I can’t fix it, I probably do not want it.”
But there is yet another side to the rural person. Because he or she lives life at a slower pace, quiet contemplation is often a distinguishing trait of the country dweller. They are more inclined to not only notice a sunset, but to sit down and watch it. The country dweller observes the changes of the season by things other than simply when they have to mow the lawn for the first time or when it is time to dig out the snowblower from the back of the garage. The country dweller watches the seasonal movements of the wild animals and notices when the first wildflowers begin to appear in the woods.
I must admit to some prejudice in my opinions, being myself a person born and raised in a rural setting, and working much of my life in that way. Even when I have lived in towns and cities, my work had continued to be mostly with rural people. Being thus, this perspective of the country has bred and formed me, and it is generally the point of view from which I approach the matters of this life.
I am not entirely sure why I am telling you all of this in the introduction to this book. Perhaps I feel a need to defend some of the things that I have written, or perhaps it is only because I am trying to help you, the reader, to understand it better. Whatever the case, you now know a little bit about what I mean when I speak of someone having a “country way of looking at things”.
Many of the themes of the poetry and essays of this book are from Northern Wisconsin, where my wife and I and our boys have a small farm. However, we have also lived in other parts of the world, and some of the rural perspectives contained in the writings are from those places. There are stories and experiences and many poems.
This book is meant to be read while sitting on your own porch, or if you do not have a porch, perhaps out in the woods or on a park bench – even sitting next to a window with the outside light coming through.
Do not rush through this book. Read it slowly. Like a cup of good, hot coffee, or a glass of fine wine, this book is meant not to be guzzled, but savored. Enjoy every sip. To get the greatest enjoyment from the book, read it out loud to someone, or even to yourself.
My hope is that you, the reader, will appreciate these writings explained from my perspective, whether you are a rural or urban dweller, and even whether or not you agree with me.