© Another Day in the Country
Long ago, we should have stopped believing in fairy tales — not that we couldn’t dream or hope for the best or even really appreciate a “fairy godmother in disguise” when she arrived to give us a helping hand.
But tales of magical rescue are few and far between and we need to grow up and face the facts.
When my sister and I moved from California to Marion County, some years back, we weren’t consciously in the “believe in fairy tales” camp; but naively, we were pretty close.
We had some good stuff on our side as we contemplated country life. We had family still in town and that helped our re-entry process. We had been raised middle class, learned to work — in fact enjoyed it — paid our bills, had a strong sense of ethics, and believed that just our presence in a community would make it a better place. We gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. We valued highly “the good old days” when, in retrospect, life seemed simpler, safer, better.
Right after Aunt Gertie admonished us, “You girls just don’t know,” with a certain look in her eye; I began to understand that the good old days and the eyes of nostalgia with which we look back weren’t really all that good.
It was more like we were just using selective memory to remember the good parts, forgetting or not knowing about all the really hurtful, life threatening, and excruciatingly painful hard parts.
Before we moved back to Ramona, my sister said to me, “What would you like to see happen in Ramona?” She wanted me to dream the possibilities for this little rundown town and see what I could come up with. We were filled with nostalgic optimism about going back to our roots in the year 2000 and enjoying small town life for maybe a year or two. We envisioned open arms and clean country air — far from the pollution of too many people.
I filled several pages with what I perceived as possibilities for Ramona, most of them pipe dreams with no footing in the reality of this county and its aging, shrinking population — but it was fun to think, “What if?”
I’m sure those pages reside somewhere in the depths of our filing system at Tony’s house (where we play ‘office’) but it’s been a long time since I looked at them. Quite quickly, I began to learn the realities of Marion County; but you know, my friends, that doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming and saying, “What if?”
And, I still believe that we each can make a difference, although I know that I’m preaching to the choir. It’s reality that Marion County has one of the highest percentages of folks over 60. I’m over 60 and one of the reasons I came and have been able to stay is that I have Social Security as my base. I have more time to contribute to my community and dream up ideas than our younger compatriots, so we need to get with it and start dreaming.
We’ve also had more experience, us oldsters, so surely we are smart enough to dream on one hand and be realistic on the other. Maybe we’ve lost some of our dare, though, and we need the younger set to remind us that we’ve got to take some risks.
In our county we need to dream for the future while trying to preserve what we have. Most of the people in Ramona looked at me like I’d just fallen off Mars when I asked the city council about their dreams for the town, 10 to 12 years ago. They were all just trying to survive the day, pay pay their monthly bills, and get home to watch their favorite ‘reality’ show.
For sure, I don’t have the answer to our countywide dilemma; but I do know we have to face facts: We are older and getting older. We have very limited finances. We do have an educated, caring, younger generation — some still with us, some moving back. We are living in a beautiful place that deserves our respect and protection. Our biggest resource is the ground we walk on and the generations who’ve survived on this land.
I’m encouraged at the prospect of a wind farm in our area. I’ve always loved the old fashioned windmills that spoke of rural life in Kansas and now — for starters — I’m adjusting my nostalgic need for wide open unobstructed vistas to accommodate something new and incredibly useful on another day in the country.