Friendly Small Towns

For some people, it’s big city life. For others, it’s travel and always on the move. For me, life is sweet in a small country town. There was a time when I wanted to get away – there was even a time when I was away, both in a larger city and abroad – but now that I have kids, my small hometown is where I want to be.

We have one stop light where I live, and more cows than people to the best of my knowledge. Everyone knows everyone else; growing up I never tried to skip school because I knew that my dad knew half the people in town and my mom the other half and that I would be found out without a doubt. I recall one time when a college friend from Ithaca came to visit me and we went for a walk around town. After I waved hello to the 5th or 6th person on the street, she commented how it just wasn’t like that in the city neighborhoods, and how quaint it must be to live in a place where you know everyone. It is, yes, in a good way.

I went out to southern California a couple of times for field jobs in the desert. Once, I fell at a gas station and sprained my ankle badly. I tried to get a stranger to come and assess it before my friend returned but everyone averted their eyes, suspicious that I was trying to manipulate them in some way.  One woman even shook her head no at me, she would not approach. My friend returned and helped me but it was a lesson learned and I knew I had no interest in staying in southern California for good.

People around here are willing to help others.  During the most recent big snow storm, my car got stuck in a snow drift on the back roads of town. In a bind, I jumped out and flagged down the next car that came by (really, I was lucky that there was a next car on these back roads). In the end, the driver of the car, a snow plow, and a farmer who came out of his house to help push all assisted in getting me unstuck and on my way home out of the near-blizzard.

Not all small towns are friendly and safe, but mine is, and it seems a general rule for life on the back roads of the Finger Lakes Region. I know that I am where I am supposed to be, in a place where neighbors help neighbors and a walk round town is pleasantly friendly.

By Gabrielle L. Wheeler

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