ROSE NOLEN: Urban or rural, a home offers pleasures and surprises

Monday, October 3, 2011 | 5:03 p.m. CDT; updated 7:19 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 3, 2011

On the crisp, sunny days which we have enjoyed recently, I crave walks along the countryside.

To me this is one of the great advantages of living in a state where the seasons vary. I like to watch the earth's renewal process as nature changes its clothes and moves on to its next cycle.

When I was growing up, I liked to imagine that I would ultimately live on a farm. This was no more than a childhood fantasy, the stuff of movies and storybook tales.

Such minor details as rising at daybreak, taking care of the livestock, planting the crops, repairing the fences and the thousand other jobs necessary to sustain life on the farm were never a consideration.

At that time in my life when everything seemed possible, country living seemed to me to be ideal, like living in a fairyland.

I don't know at what age I lost my romantic attachment to farm life, but it was probably after I had lived long enough in the city to enjoy the excitement of an afternoon at the penny arcade.

In any case, it wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I gained an appreciation of the diverse experiences I had acquired as a child growing up in both a small town and a city. Both places provided me, each in their own way, with experiences that helped to shape my world view.

When my family first moved to the city, I asked for and was granted permission to stay behind. Without having a leg to stand on, I felt strongly that it was important to continue living in the small town where I was.

Admittedly, I was a strong-willed child, and my mother was always open to hearing my side of a disagreement. In latter years, she confided in me that for as long as she could remember, I always had an uncanny knack for exercising good judgment.

As it turned out, a friend of our family, an older woman who lived alone, agreed to have me stay with her. The two years I lived with her proved I was right to remain behind.

For one thing, she could not read or write, so I gained good practice by carrying on the correspondence for the two of us. I kept both of our families informed about our activities.

I was also able to keep a sharp eye on people who were in a position to take advantage of her because of her illiteracy. The fact that our local school teacher roomed in her house further assured our safety and well-being.

The greatest gift I received from this experience was discovering the woman's history. She was the youngest daughter of slaves and had grown up in a large family. I slept in her bedroom, and she prayed out loud and told God all of her secrets.

She had an endless number of stories that had been handed down in her family, and she handed them on to me. Consequently, I learned second-hand what it was like to live in slavery.

For the 24 months I lived with her, it seemed as if my imagination was on steroids. By the time I joined my family, my mind had been opened to receive all the new information I had access to.

I started right away to add chapter after chapter to the great adventure taking place in my mind. So, nowadays, when people ask how long I have been writing, I can truthfully tell them that it has virtually been my entire life.

Actually, I have never regretted any experiences I’ve had. Even the unfortunate ones have left me with lifelong lessons learned.

Even though I have never lived on a farm, in the city I discovered the public library a few weeks after I moved there.

That's when I learned that one fairyland is just as good as another.

It's all in the mind of the explorer.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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