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Why Rural?

When I moved to rural Minnesota eighteen years ago, there were a number of adjustments to be made. I had to redefine "neighbor," "community," "position," "solitude." In truth, the only constant from my upbringing in affluent suburban Chicago - the guiding force in my deliverance to the remote north - was, and is, my heartfelt need to slow the pace of life and share that life with as much of the natural world as will accept my presence. I do indeed enjoy, perhaps even take pride in, the gentle ribbing about being "downwardly mobile" which my friends seem not able to resist. I do not, however, interpret my move to the country as being either downward or upward, but rather as pursuing a personal journey both outward and inward.

In terms of global geographic location, my current dwelling may not be so very far distanced from that of my youth. But this farm, which has become the cradle of my existence, could well be at the opposite end of the earth. After twenty-two years residing on the same corner with the same five neighboring houses (one on each of the remaining three corners and one on each of the two remaining sides of our home), it would have proven an embarassingly impossible task to identify any but half a dozen of the Heaven-only-knows how many neighbors living therein. I felt no obligations to my community, no connections. I had no personal social standing, and the "position" bestowed upon me was nothing more than the result of being raised within the North Shore suburb's village limits. In all fairness to the community, however, I was never an outgoing child. And in all honesty, I experienced no sense of loss when I left.

It is different here. As I glance over the monitor and share with the feline sitting on my desk a view of the horses grazing contentedly beyond the fence line, I can not help but think how important this place and I are to each other. This farm, my family, the natural community , and I are all deeply connected and interdependent. We function within and produce a balance I have experienced nowhere else. I no longer have to manufacture a rhythm by which to pace my life's activities. The rhythm is here, all around me, all within me, and I need only accept my place in it.

There are far too many drums beating in this world.

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