You want to move WHERE? / by Annette Tait

At your AGE? WHY in the heck-o would YOU want to do THAT?

My step-mom, Grace Papale, recently came to Regan, N.D., for a visit. It wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time she saw the “fly-over states” from the ground. She’s a city girl through and through.  

Katy Kassian’s step-mother, Grace Papale in Elko, Nev., with just one example of the arts -- and fun kitsch -- that can be found in rural America.

Katy Kassian’s step-mother, Grace Papale in Elko, Nev., with just one example of the arts -- and fun kitsch -- that can be found in rural America.

Until now. We had a relatively leisurely drive through Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and western North Dakota -- a great opportunity to get up close and personal with Mother Nature and showcase the high plains and Great Basin at a fabulous time of year.

We stopped small towns and shopped, visited galleries, talked to locals and took plenty of photos, gambled, ate at local eateries instead of out on the highway, and even “paid it forward” in Winnemucca, Nev.. Grace was surprised at the beautiful and varied the landscape, and was equally impressed by the vibrancy of the small towns we saw along the way. (I purposely avoided the cities, opting for the rural route I love.)

Because Grace came right at the tail-end of calving and beginning of spring work, we pressed her into service -- fetching eggs, bottle feeding the calf, baking from scratch, helping to plant the garden. She even scraped the garage so I could paint it. First time ever being up close and personal with her dinner!

A week later she asked if she could move a small -- by her standards -- house onto our property and come to live. Without hesitation we said “yes.”  Grace loves it here because she was included in everything, and became a part of we do day-to-day. She quickly garnered social invitations, and swore she felt better and was doing more than she ever had. 

Then she called her kids. Her daughter took the news with a grain of salt and offered to help pack.

Her son was a different story. “WHY would YOU ever want to live THERE? At YOUR age? Do they even have Internet??? Seventeen MILES to a grocery store? Do you even know how far that is? What about doctors? Do they even have any nearby?”

 I found this attitude amusing. Folks who’ve never been to the plains states don’t know what they’re talking about. Midwest rural is different from coastal rural --vastly different.

Grace Papale, playing gate girl while helping put the cows out to pasture.

Grace Papale, playing gate girl while helping put the cows out to pasture.

Why shouldn’t Grace relocate to central North Dakota? There’s no good reason not to.

So what if it’s outside of what she’s always known? Change is good. At any age.

And besides, yeah, it’s 17 miles to the grocery -- but those 17 miles are faster than seven in California traffic!  And yes -- rural America has high quality healthcare, fabulous volunteer ambulance and fire services, and plenty to do. From the arts to homemaker clubs, learning new hobbies or careers, festivals and fun -- there truly isn’t a dull moment. People are genuine and your handshake is still your word. And anybody within 20 miles is a neighbor. The sense of community in a rural/small town is like no other place.

How quickly we forget our parents encouraged us to make changes at every age, pursue our dreams, and change course if we felt like it.  I think before we say things like “At your age?” we ought to ask ourselves if we want our own children making those decisions for us at “that age.” 

Come back Grace -- we need more “pioneers” like you!