Rural Thoughts

This webpage is being called “Rural Thoughts.” We have lived in a very rural household in the very southeastern tip of Illinois for the last 26 years. But we do have access to what can almost be called an “urban” area - Paducah, Kentucky, plus Metropolis and Brookport, Illinois. But even our “urban” areas are pretty rural in character compared with the truly large metropolitan areas such as Chicago.

Kristi Hanson and I own this place and live here. We both have lived in urban areas, Kristi more than I. But now our life is rooted in in the rural. But like most things in the U.S., there is an attempt by the commercial interests to homogenize rural and urban lives, just like has been done in homogenizing cultures from differing geological and climatological regions of our country.

If one were to drive across the country on, say, I-70, listening to the car radio as you drove, one would have to tune into different radio stations as you travelled across the country, but you would hear the same stuff from all the networks. Sure, if you tune between 88 and 92 FM, you can probably find an NPR station, but, while you might find a different order of shows, or even some different shows in different state’s NPR networks, generally speaking you will hear the same programs at the same time.

In commercial radio networks, say, like FM country, classic rock, or hip hop stations, you encounter the same shows playing the same songs over and over. As you drive along the interstate, the major exits have the same gas stations, motel chains, chain restaurants, etc etc. You will read basically the same front page stories in the newspaper in New York as you will Los Angles, and, if you get a motel room at night, you’ll see the same information dished out, only slightly altered, in every TV outlet from Fox to CNN. This is literally our “mainstream” culture. It is highly plastic, superficial, money oriented, homogenized, non-controversial, but, at the same time, reliable and available at all times.

But, those things outside that stream offer good and important ideas and resources to society. We aren’t in the mainstream in many ways, but we still work regular jobs, pay taxes, and do our best to be good citizens. This website is an attempt to share what it is like to have such a rural life, and some of the things that we encounter on a day to day basis. We love it here, even though there are a lot of problems. But there are problems everywhere. We’re just trying to do our best to live a good life, have some fun, and stay active in our community. Please feel free to share with us your experiences.

In our rural life, we do things that are traditional to the rural lifestyle, such as having large gardens. We also do some canning, a lot of our own cooking, sometimes on a beautiful air-tight wood cook stove. We like music, art, and writing, and like to hiking and ride our bicycles. But we face problems that our rural ancestors didn’t have to face, like farm chemicals, pollution from nearby industry, kids on ATVs running wild in the neighborhood, things like that. We also have a lot easier access to town than our rural ancestors had. That gives us some advantages and disadvantages. We want to share with you some of what we do in our rural modern rural lifestyle.

Mark Donham