How is life in Rural WV Different?

There is almost a foot of new snow and it’s still coming down. The perfect time to write a bit about life here at Green Grove. As promised I’ve been working on describing how life is different now that we live in  rural WV as opposed to urban MA.

One big difference is that since it’s a good 30 min to an hour to get to a supermarket, we shop ahead. We try to do a big trip to Costco about once a month and then no more than one trip a week out for fill ins like milk, produce, etc. That means we are more conscious of planning meals ahead. It also means that when a snow comes we don’t rush to get bread, milk and toilet paper….because there’s plenty in our garage/pantry. We never buy one gallon of milk or one loaf of bread….in fact my husband frequently bakes bread for us, but we keep some store bought in the freezer for when he’s busy with other things.

Another difference is that people function differently, a perfect example is some plumbing work we’ve had done. Our downstairs bathroom has been sluggish, slow to drain and not always guaranteed to flush off and on since we moved in…we have had a variety of folks through but finally found a local plumber who actually did some work here before. He came with a helper and they called in another guy who knew somethings about our system, they spent 3-4 hours and did a number of things. Some that hadn’t been done and some they just did more thoroughly and when they were finished for the day he said, “Now I’m not going to give you a bill until we’re sure it’s really fixed. Give it a few weeks and if it slows down again call me and if it’s ok and you’re satisfied let me know and we’ll settle up then”. Wow…when’s the last time a plumber left your house without payment? ”

Then there’s how neighbors help each other out….like when our lawn mower broke and a friend/neighbor came and looked at it, knew how to fix it and since his wife was going to town the next day had her get the part. Then he came out after work and put it on for us. Only let us pay for the part, nothing for his time, her gas, her time….just being neighborly.

Or our friend and outdoor maintainence man was cutting wood up above us and came in just to get a drink and warm up for a bit. While he was here figured out a plan to better insulate the outdoor room where our water filtration system is housed, so we wouldn’t have to worry about pipes freezing if it gets really cold for really long. Then later on he called to say he knew where to get a good deal on the supplies so don’t get them somewhere else for more.

And when he was heading to a town with a Cabela’s my husband picked up several things from there for a several different folks.

Now sometime’s it’s a little hard to adjust to the laid back attitude, like if there’s something you want done but you don’t say it’s urgent or an emergency and the worker says he’ll stop by….that could mean tomorrow or it could mean next week, or next month. And when folks do stop by they may visit for several hours before getting to the work they came to do. Then there’s those first uneasy feelings when you “contract” for big  jobs but there’s no contract just a handshake over the agreed on terms. Though it’s always worked out and no one seems to take advantage of anyone. I think because we all rely on one another everyone is careful to keep their reputation good….otherwise news would travel fast and they’d loose business.

Even when folks do something someone doesn’t like, or they just don’t see eye to eye on something, politics, religion, whatever—they still have a level of respect and responsibility toward the common good that you just don’t find often.

Then there’s that grapevine I mentioned—where news travels fast. I can run into someone in town, and by the time I get to work the next day everyone knows I went to town and why and whether my trip was successful…and if it wasn’t they offer lots of suggestions for where to find whatever I couldn’t get or what to use instead.

And today, well it’s snowing, schools are closed so I went out for a test drive of my Christmas Snow Shoes….they work great! My husband baked bread, the hunter split wood, the weaver wove, and the dancer read and now she and I are going to watch a DVD together….and I made homemade chicken noodle soup and peach crisp for dinner. No stress, no worries about shoveling…a neighbor will come on his tractor and plow us out when it stops. Just a nice day here at Green Grove….where Magick happens in all seasons.

Is life different here, you bet….and I’m so glad it is.

Our First Green Grove Christmas

As I sip my morning coffee, I am once again nearly overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Our first Yuletide at Green Grove has been full of all the things that make this season one of my favorites.

We’ve had lots of special treats, Lebkuchen, Pfeffernüse, Sandtarts, Almond Tarts, Cardomum Rings, Grandpa Galen’s Cinnamon Buns,  Stollen, the Dancer’s Chocolate Snowflakes, Peanut Butter Blossoms–a AKA Hershey Kiss Cookies–for the Hunter, the Weaver’s Candied Citrus Rind, Grandma’s Fruitcake, and our traditional Christmas Eve meal Beef Burgandy.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Christmas Eve we decorated our tree, a little spruce, well not so little at over 6 feet in the stand. It was one we needed to take out so we decided to use it for our Christmas tree. I never use spruce because they are so prickly, but it was such a nice shape, so we suffered the pricks and scratches with good humor…mostly. One advantage to the sharp needles is the cats may be put off climbing, so far the’ve just batted at the low hanging ornaments. We also put a smaller one in the front window decorated simply with dried apple and orange slices and a few safe candles for light.

   Big tree                                                               Little Tree

Then, after hanging our stockings “by the chimney with care”, we all opened our traditional Christmas Eve gifts of new jammies. All the guys seemed pleased with the super soft fleece pants and thermal shirts, and The Dancer liked her cool plaid slipper-boots and fluffy heart covered fleece robe, I was totally pleased with the soft fluffy snow flake pants. Well done Santa!

Once the cookies, milk and carrots had been left for Santa and his reindeer, the kids went to bed cozy in their new sleepwear. After some last minute wrapping and a quick mopping of the kitchen floor–all that baking left its mark–I made it to bed around 1:30 am. Much better than most years.

Christmas morning was unusual in that no one was up at the crack of dawn, in fact, I had to wake the two younger kids at 8ish so we could get started. It was lovely opening our gifts and munching Christmas breads at a leisurely pace. One thing that really struck me was that my children enjoyed giving, their choices for each other and us were so thoughtful and caring. They also were so grateful, generously giving enthusiastic thank-yous and hugs to the givers.

Then we began gathering up our things to go to Grandma’s, that’s my mom who is still full if fun at 91 years of age. Just before we left we had a delightful phone call from one of our UK daughters and her family. They’re actually my step children and grand children, another of the wonderful additions to my life that came when my husband and I were married. talking to all of them was such a joy.

Finally we set off to Grandma’s, with a brief delay when we realized that we’d forgotten the cranberry relish and had to turn around …luckily we’d only gone about a half mile.

We were a little later than planned, but were in time to see everyone who was there. Now that my nieces and nephews have jobs and spouses its not as easy to get everyone in the same place at the same time.  This year we were missing only one nephew and his wife,  who spent Christmas/Natal with his wife’s family in Brazil. That made 15 at the dinner table with two others there for part of the day for a total of 17.

We had more giving and receiving, lots of laughing and story telling and I got to play some of my favorites on the piano. A very good visit indeed.

The day after Christmas was spent quietly. We put away the gifts, got rid of all the wrappings, read over instruction manuals, I got my thank you notes written,  played some of the new games people had gotten, and relaxed by the fire until it was coals just right for testing our new fireplace toy—a popcorn popper that worked perfectly…though the handle could be a bit longer.

Though the day was rainy, spirits were warm and bright, as were the fires in our two fireplaces. Nearly 20 friends and family braved the weather and it seemed that all had a good time.The next two days were spent gearing up for our open house on Sunday the 29th. Stocking up on cheeses and salami, more baking, lots of cleaning and a bit of extra decorating.    

  Wreath                     Well                        photo-1

On Monday we went to PA to visit my husband’s mother and had a nice lunch and then a very snowy and slippery drive for the first 40 or so miles…took about 2 hours…then smooth sailing for the last 80 miles which took only about 1 &1/2 hours.

Then we had two lovely quiet days at home eating up leftovers and enjoying the magick that surrounds us here.

Yes, we are incredibly blessed and I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, prosperous year in 2014. I hope you will continue to read of our life here, I get such a thrill every time I see that someone has taken time to comment or like or follow Green Grove: A Place to Grow….next post is about some of the things that are different here than when we lived in a densely populated city in MA and how we are growing into this new way of life.