Life in a small rural town is this: You’re at a bank of neighborhood mailboxes and a woman you don’t know sifts through her mail, looks puzzled for a moment, and holds out an envelope to you. “Is this yours?” she asks. It’s not your mail, but you recognize the name on it — a person who just texted you a few minutes ago to say they’d be over later to buy eggs. “No,” you tell the person with the envelope, “but that person is coming to my house later today. I’ll give it to her.” With two degrees of separation between the postal service and the recipient, the mail gets to where it belongs.
Life in a small rural town is this: You’re at an event in mid-January. You see Carolyn Sullivan and chat for a while, and you moan about being weeks behind on your holiday correspondence. As you part ways, Carolyn turns back for a moment to tell you, “Oh, by the way, you don’t need to bother sending me a Christmas card — I already got to see yours at Riverside Printing when they were being printed.”
Life in a small rural town is this: You get an email from John and Kelly Rohrer inviting you to run 1/8 mile barefoot in the snow for the 10th Annual Badass Wolverine Run, and along with a 15 other people you do it, and it seems like a normal thing to do.
Life in a small rural town is this: The person grooming the ski trail for kids’ Nordic ski races comes across a freshly killed deer lying across the race course, drags the carcass out of the way, and continues grooming. The next morning, all the kids race across a streak of red snow; visiting city kids puzzled, rural kids knowing that a cougar was responsible, but also intuitively understanding to keep their lips zipped.
Life in a small rural town is this: A local father, husband and employee is removed from the place he has cultivated as his home, and the community mobilizes to support efforts to return him to it. In a place like the Methow Valley, only one degree of separation stands between most of us, and that small gap of circumstance is inconsequential when we’re invested in getting a person back home where he belongs.