"On The Rural Route - Week of July 3, 1998"
MONTGOMERY How far is it to your house?" the young boy asked as we passed the last street light along the roadside, leaving the city limits.
"Not too far," my son replied as we headed toward our farm in a rural community known as Shellhorn in northwest Pike County.
When we turned onto the dirt road, I heard the boy snicker, "You might be a redneck if directions to your house include 'turn onto the dirt road.'"
Both boys laughed as the truck bounced over the familiar bumps in the road and passed over the wooden bridge without side rails.
"My gosh, do you even have electricity back here?" the visitor asked.
"Sure we do," my son said. "We even get Saturday Night Live on TV. Course we don't get it until Sunday afternoon, but we still get it."
Both boys laughed. As I drove the mile and a-half stretch of dirt road, I made mental pictures of what life was like for each of my passengers.
The visitor knew only city life. He was used to driving a block to get a soft drink or any other item he wanted from the store. What a contrast.
Our family has learned to consolidate trips since it's about five miles to the nearest store, and it doesn't offer much of what you'll find at supermarkets in town. Mostly just the staples like milk, bread and sandwich meat, plus gas are found there. The prices are slightly higher, but you pay for the convenience, or should I say you save the inconvenience of not driving 30 miles round trip to the grocery store in town.
It was nearly time for bed when we arrived home. The boys were soon fast asleep, and I wasn't far behind.
When dawn broke the next morning, the family began its usual activities. As the boys headed out the front door to the barn, I heard the visitor gasp in near disbelief. He spotted seven deer grazing on ryegrass in the pasture in front of our house.
As the rest of the family watched the deer munch their way across the field, the boy's wonderment turned to envy.
My thoughts drifted back to the differences in the two boys' lives.
One usually wakes to the sound of motors running and horns blowing. He has the convenience of living near school, a mall and a ball field.
Mornings at our house usually are quiet, but occasionally include the sounds of a cow mooing or a horse nickering. What a contrast.
After the weekend visit filled with hunting, riding horses and camping out, the visitor vowed he'd live in the country one day.
"What? And give up all that convenience," I said. "It's a 30-mile round trip to town."
"Yeah, but paradise is right outside your door," he said.
Good point, I thought to myself. The distance to town is the price I pay not to have those conveniences.