It’s hard to believe I have been here in small town Missouri for 7 months. It feels like I was in a fog the first 3 or 4 trying to get settled in. There were things to learn about yard care, what is available in town, updates to the house, and my initiation into the culture of small town football.
Being near my family has been a blessing and they also keep me pretty busy. I love the time I get to spend with them and never take it for granted.
My first real winter is almost over. It was a mild one, or so I’m told. There was one week when it felt like I was living in an ice rink and getting across the street to check my mail involved a lot of slipping and sliding. I checked in with Holly at Jansen Photo Expeditions who spends time in Iceland and other crazy cold places and bought the clip on cleats she recommended so I will be safe in the future.
I do love the snow, at least so far. We haven’t had a lot, but it is beautiful. I enjoy the texture as it falls and the crunchy noises it makes when I walk in it. The cold hasn’t really bothered me. I tend to stay in on really cold and icy days, and have a nice warm coat for the rest of the time.
There is one problem though. I am really afraid of tornadoes. There was a bad storm right after I moved here that caused a lot of damage all over town, including my roof and totaling my son’s van. Maybe that is when the fear started. The power of these storms humble me. Every time I hear there are tornado warnings I get nervous, especially since I don’t have a basement. There are shelters in town, but I never know if I have time to get to them.
This week was the first time the tornado sirens went off since I moved here. My daughter in law texted me, telling me to get into my bathroom. I wasn’t too sure about the tempered glass shower doors so I ended up in my closet, shaking like a leaf until the storm passed through.
The next day I had almost convinced myself I was over reacting until I saw video online of a not so far away town where homes had been totally destroyed. I was never afraid of storms before and actually think they are pretty dramatic and cool, but tornadoes are definitely a game changer for me.
There are other things about small town life that I am learning:
It’s not as quiet as I imagined:
It’s just a different kind of noise. In the summer people are mowing their lawns all hours of the day. Grass grows fast here. Maybe we should all plan on doing it at the same time and then we could enjoy more quiet. Except for the cicadas. But, I don’t mind them. They’re actually kind of cool.
Going for walks can be a little noisy too. Everyone has dogs and my walks are always accompanied by a barking chorus. They are joined by birds calling and squirrels chattering as they report my progress through town. Who needs GPS? The animals can tell you where I am.
In California, I was surrounded by the sounds of the freeway, trains, helicopters, landscapers, and airplanes above. I like the “noise” here much better.
If you feed them, the critters will come:
I love watching squirrels play in the trees and started feeding them soon after I moved here. That is until they started wanting inside where the food came from. Here is a picture of Seymour saying “hi” through the window. (Now I know for sure he is a boy.)
I think we have an agreement now. I give them food and they respect my boundaries. They are back to being fun to watch and seem to enjoy putting on a show for my cats, as well.
Birds will come too. My favorites right now are the cardinals with their bright red color and unique calls. There are also large robins with red breasts and several other species I haven’t identified yet. The one thing I have learned though, is not to feed the birds near my car.
My poor little CA car has been blindsided with a cross country drive, covered with snow, and literally frozen in ice. And now, it has to bear the shame of wearing bird poop wherever it goes. I guess I should be embarrassed too.
I love sitting on my front porch or back patio and just listening. If I sit still long enough, a variety of birds and squirrels are likely to come visit. Even my neighbor’s cat has come to say “hi”, but he is always disappointed that I only offer nuts and seeds.
My intention for the back yard is to have it look like a forest and be my nature sanctuary. I already have 20 trees shading it, so that is a start. I hope to be planting wild flowers soon. They will be good for the bees and butterflies that pass through and create a nice view that I will get to enjoy.
It’s not as hard to connect with the community as I thought:
Everyone told me that it takes a long time to make new friends in a small town. I heard stories of newcomers who lived here for years and still felt like outsiders. That hasn’t been true for me.
People may be amused by my strange CA ways and the things I don’t know, but they have also been very welcoming.
What is working for me is my willingness to get involved. Once people saw that I wanted to help they let me in right away. I’ve joined a group of fun, proactive women with big hearts who do wonderful things to support the community and am already on the library board.
And so, my journey continues. I am still adapting, but something about this place feels right for me. I do enjoy going into the city for movies or shopping, but feel best in my new small town home.
And that, is a good thing.