Small town living. It's so different to being in suburbia. All the things I used to find inconvenient about living in a small country town after moving from a regional city I have learned to love.
What used to be a six foot fenced fortress backyard and a patch of grass hardly worth owning a lawn mower for, became a 1/4 of an acre, with short wiry untidy little fences that forced you to get to know your neighbours. In suburbia you are aware of your neighbours, but the style of indoor living and security fencing meant you just knew who they were and that was about it. Besides the odd shout heard between a bickering couple or a child learning to play the trumpet, that was about all the interaction you had with the people living around you.
When an ambulance used to go past in the city, it was often in peak hour traffic and I didn't pay a lot of attention. Now, standing at the tiny post office that doubles as a community hub, an ambulance screams past and you stop to wonder who it could possibly be - is it someone you know? If it isn't, you can often be sure to find out who it was and what happened through the friend of a friend.
The entire main street is just about shut by lunchtime on a Saturday and won't be trading again until Monday morning. Including cafes. It used to a bit annoying, but eventually you learn to get organised and appreciate the fact that the world can stop for 24 hours and not everyone needs to work 24/7, leaving people more time to spend with their families.
The local post office is run by a handful of people. Farmers exchange weather reports, elderly people escape their carers for the day and wander up the road to spend time there – they have tea. Those supermarket cards that are swapped and exchanged are dropped at the PO and children come in to swap and engage in chatter with the lovely couple who own it - there is often a preschool drawing or two blue tacked to the wall.
It might be less convenient, have limited services and bad internet when a cloud goes over, less entertainment options and the odd frustrating phone call with a city courier service that has no idea of the distances up here. You might have roads that are dusty, cracked and bumpy from heavy vehicles
You become entwined and involved with a community that you can't ever imagine not being part of it. You have a deeper sense of connection and the ripple effects one person’s decision can have on an entire area, community and economy. What you do as a person has a domino effect, and in a smaller place you see the results a lot faster – whether they are good or bad.
But life is simpler, and richer for the sense of community, belonging and the fact that if you don’t all support each other, the area and our families will fail to thrive. This ripple effect exists in the city, but the pond is much bigger so it is less noticeable. In a small town, it’s there in your face.