Do you remember the fable about the town mouse and the country mouse? I loved that story as a child and can still vividly remember the pictures in the book depicting the trials of each mouse when it was out of its element.
Even though I have always loved the country and wished I lived on acreage, because of my father’s job growing up and my husband’s career, I have always lived in the city or the suburbs of a major city.
My cousin, Jeannie, who grew up a stone’s throw from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., always dreamed of living on a horse farm and years ago achieved her dream.
Her beautiful farm in Bell Buckle, Tenn., is one of my favorite spots on earth. The first time our family visited, our children were amazed at the scenery. There was nothing but rolling hills, horse farms, gorgeous Tennessee walking horses and cattle lazily chewing grass in the hot sun.
Our oldest son, then about 13 years old, said, "Where do people out here go to the grocery store?" We learned quickly that people do not shop in Bell Buckle. There isn’t a grocery store.
There is, however, a gas station that has a small convenience store if you need a loaf of bread or a half gallon of milk. If you need to go shopping, you have to drive 20 minutes or so. It can take me 20 minutes to go to the store too, but that’s due to traffic. There is zero traffic in and around Bell Buckle.
At Jeannie’s, you can sit on the front porch and a handful of cars might go by every few hours. Of course, if you live there, you know everybody that passes by, and possibly where they are going.
In all of my visits, I have never heard a siren while there. Contrast that with the sirens I hear daily at my home.
There are shops in the cute town of Bell Buckle. There are antique shops, art galleries and other specialty stores. There are even a few bed and breakfasts.
Of course, there are a few diners, since no small town would be complete without that sort of eatery. Make no mistake that the menus reflect the South — fried green tomatoes, greens, country fried steak and the like. There are no fast-food restaurants in sight.
The people are just what you would expect from any decent Southern town, friendly and curious about who you are and where you’re from. Those are both quintessentially Southern qualities that I love.
The pace is also much slower in Bell Buckle, which can be a little difficult to get used to. My cousin, who is a middle school teacher, loves her summers off when she can be home with her two boys and her three horses. She spends her days reading, riding and caring for the horses … not to mention sewing, scrapbooking, stamping, gardening and even napping. I haven’t taken a nap since I was pregnant with my first child, it’s that foreign to me.
Chilling out in a hammock is another thing. Is there anything more relaxing than hanging out beneath a tree, enjoying the breeze, sunshine, noises of nature and laughter of children? That is how I spent a good portion of one of the days I was there.
In the story about the town and country mouse cousins, the country mouse couldn’t wait to get back to her laid-back lifestyle in the country. While I was in that hammock, I certainly understood her sentiment.
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.