There is something so very satisfying about living — and shopping — in a small town. A friend and I had an errand we needed to run, and on the way back, we stopped at the grocery store. After we walked out carrying our purchases, I noticed the truck of a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, so I ran back inside to find her. We said a few words, exchanged a couple of hugs, then I had to get back to where the other woman was waiting.

I was almost to her car when I saw a neighbor drive up. I’d talked to him a couple of hours before that, and he had lamented that his hens were laying, four new eggs today, and he didn’t know what to do with them. He said he wished he knew someone who wanted them. I raised my hand, of course, and said, “Me!” Since he was busy and couldn’t get the eggs for me right then, we decided he’d come by later and leave them on the back porch. Which he did. So I made the detour in the parking lot to see him and thank him for the gift, then hurried back to my friend’s car before I saw anyone else I knew.

It’s very nice being able to see people I know when I’m out and about. I’ve never really lived anywhere, either in a smaller area or a larger city, where just serendipitous meetings happened. It’s these casual encounters, I think, more than anything, that make this such a nice place to live. Well, that and the frequent conversations like, “She’s the daughter of the son of the uncle of his cousin’s husband.”

It still surprises me, that in a town where people have lived for generations, people welcome newcomers. Other towns I’ve been to where the same families have lived and held sway for generations have been so insular, they never bothered to get to know anyone new, though of course, they sure liked the money newcomers brought in!

As soon as I finish writing this blog, I’m going to do another small town thing — walk to work and visit with one of those folks who have spend their whole life here.

Besides all that, the sun is shining, the air is still and warm.

Yes, so satisfying!


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Small Town Encounters

When I was at the post office yesterday, I noticed my mail deliverer working the window. “So this is why my mail is always late,” I quipped. She explained they were shorthanded, so she was basically working two jobs, but that she’d be by later with my mail. We chatted a few minutes, then, as I headed out the door, a woman I didn’t recognize walked in and said,  “Hi, Pat.” I stopped and studied her for a second. Before I could come across as rude, I said hastily, “I’m sorry. I don’t remember your name.”

She smiled. “I only remember your name because of the hat.” She then told me her name, which didn’t ring a bell, but when she mentioned her affiliation with a local church, I finally remembered meeting her. At a pie auction at a local church, she’d stopped me and asked, “Why do they call you Pat in the Hat?”

“Because I always wear a hat,” was my answer. So apparently, not only am I easy to remember because of my hats, so is my name easy to remember.

Although I make is seem as if this is an ideal small town, it isn’t, though some things truly are ideal. A library within walking distance? Priceless!

Other things, not so much. Although I still have no problem with walking to do errands, I’ve developed an inexplicable aversion to walking just to be walking, Well, today I had a few graphic examples that helped explain why I don’t enjoy walking as much as I once did. For one, dogs run loose — not all of them, and not all the time, but enough to be a problem, and I definitely do not like encountering strange and hostile dogs. There is a leash law here, but apparently, the sheriff’s department doesn’t care, and neither do the owners. As one woman told me, “If I were a dog, I would prefer to run loose, even if I end up getting run over.” And, since the dog disappeared shortly after she told me that, I’m sure she, if not her dog, got her preference.

Another issue is the cars. I don’t think people here are used to pedestrians. Too often, if I’m crossing a street or cutting through a parking lot to a store, drivers will simply ignore me or mow me down as if I weren’t even there. I have to be extra vigilant because of those who aren’t at all vigilant.

And then there are all the young men of working age who apparently don’t work. I detoured to avoid encountering a couple of small groups of men and several single wanderers. Good thing I haven’t lost my big city wariness.

I sure do miss having a wilderness area to wander around without all the unpleasant encounters. (Well, there were a coyote or two, and an occasional snake, but I could handle those.) I suppose I could drive somewhere to walk, but really, where’s the sense in that?

Once the garage is finished and I can get my storage items out of my exercise room, I’ll be able to use my elliptical again, but that’s only for a few minutes at a time and doesn’t at all take the place of walking. I have been adding more time to my dance workouts, but even that doesn’t take the place of walking.

I often encounter neighbors walking around the block across the street, and I might have to do that, too. And there is a fairly safe, though rather short street I sometimes walk. Meantime, I try to do a lot of errands!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Small Town Living

Small town living can be such a hoot.

I spend most of my time in my back room where I read and work on the computer. Because there are a couple of windows that face my neighbor’s house, I can hear the mail truck pull up to her place, but not mine.

Yesterday was exceptionally cold with a few isolated snow flakes and a lot of biting winds. (28mph). So when I heard the mail truck, I hurried to the door to catch the mail deliverer, bundled in a parka, hat, hood, muffler, heading up my neighbor’s sidewalk.

“Did I get any mail?” I called out.

“Just a flyer,” she called back.

Postal regulations put into effect right before I moved here require new residents to plant a mailbox along the street, though no such regulation targets those who lived here before the rule. Hence, my neighbor gets her mail delivered to her door. I have to walk out to the street. It’s not that long a walk, obviously, but it does entail putting on shoes and a coat and fighting the wind for possession of my storm door.

“So it’s not worth it for me to walk out the box?” I asked.

“Definitely not,” she answered.

We talked about the weather for as long as it took her to stuff my neighbor’s mail in the box, then she said, “You be careful. Don’t go for your walk today.”

I had to laugh at that. Yep. Small towns.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator