Idaho: A Country Mouse Explains Why

 

Wouldn’t the world be kinda dull if we all prized the same things? Well, for starters we’d probably die off as a species but, before that, I imagine we’d all be bored out of our minds. Say we all wanted to live in the city, so we made the world a massive metropolis and the only green space to be found was manicured by city park officials. Or, we all drove the same car, believed the same politics, had the same religious beliefs, and watched the same television shows. Nobody baked oatmeal cookies because everybody wanted chocolate chip and that’s what we all ate, every darned day. Pthpthew (that’s me trying to spit this particular image out of my mind like it’s a bad peanut). I don’t know about you, but I think “boring” is an understatement.

As cliche as it is to say, variety actually is the spice of life.

So, when it comes to where and how we live, why do we as humans feel compelled to criticize the choices of others simply because they’re not ones we’d choose for ourselves? Why do we become like the Town Mouse and Country Mouse of  Aesop’s fable (and many later variations) and attempt to convince others that our way of life is better? If you remember that story, the Town Mouse visits the Country Mouse and is unimpressed by the simple country cuisine he is offered, so he invites the Country Mouse to visit him in the city for a taste of the fine life. However, during their indulgent meal, they are attacked by dogs and the Country Mouse returns home, preferring poverty and security over opulence and fear.  When I was a child, I remember reading that story and feeling a sense of relief for the Country Mouse when he returned home safely. The City Mouse seemed to have a little too much of a ‘tude, if you had asked me then. Now I know: to each his own. It’s something I try to practice daily.

For example, some people think that Idaho sucks. Politically, it’s exceptionally conservative. Economically, its wages are depressingly low and opportunities for professional growth are limited. According to this page citing Census Bureau statistics, Idaho’s poverty rate in 2014 was smack-dab in the middle of states ranked lowest to highest in poverty; it’s as average as you can get, poverty-wise.  In 2015, it was made up predominately of white (93%), Christian or Mormon, gun-toting, outspoken Republicans who are fiercely protective of their chosen way of life. Because of this, I’ve been told that Idaho is “on the wrong side of history,” a statement that basically means that social issues are not breaking that particular way at that moment. Outsiders sometimes think of Idaho as being filled with ignorant, bible-thumping rubes who stockpile weapons and canned goods for the End Times and who spend their evenings in prayer groups trying to think of ways to keep “the gays” from getting married.

Another cliche comes to mind: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Despite what dipping a toe into statistics and voting patterns of the state will tell you, Idaho is not adequately represented by this picture. Yes, there are some gun-toting, hardcore Republicans who make a considerable effort to get other people to conform to their beliefs. They fight gay rights. They are pro-birth. They have guns and regularly kill animals (and far too many of them enjoy this). But there are a lot of others who support gay rights, who are pro-choice, and who don’t kill animals for fun. There is an exceptional number of people whose spiritual basis is compassion, connection, and kindness, not fire and brimstone. And there are still plenty of others who fall somewhere in the middle – perhaps they don’t support gay rights or are not pro-choice but they remain compassionate, kind, and loving to everybody (I happen to love some of these people the most!).  The point is that we all fall somewhere on the spectrum and I think it’s a mistake to condemn a whole state because some of the people in it have viewpoints that are vastly different than our own.

Stepping down off my soap box now, I’d like to present a few of the reasons why I choose to live where I do.

One, my back yard. Not actually mine, it is mine to use and, for that, I am eternally thankful.

Luna catching some rays.

Two, my dogs. Technically, they are not mine either. We belong to each other (and, well, truthfully, they own me).

The Moose-Meister

Silly Snow-Bunny Luna

The nearest (and only) stop light is five miles away.

We could almost replace this with a speed bump and not notice.

My nearest neighbor is five minutes away (if I walk slowly).  And I love my neighbors fiercely!!

Sherry and Scout (Sam not pictured but he’s in the photo in spirit!).

My family is close by. How did I get so very blessed?!

A pretty good lookin’ group! (My sister-in-law, Krista, is also not pictured but is in the photo in spirit!)

The outdoor recreational activities are extensive. Here, Mike and Scout enjoying the SnowMo.

 

And, I am constantly entertained…If it’s not the deer, moose, or elk, it’s the turkeys, who roam the valley like little feathered hooligan gangs, keeping the bug population in check.

Turkey on bird feeder

“Guys, the view up here is amazing!”

 

The love we have for the places we call home is hopefully real and true for each of us, very personal, and felt deeply in our hearts.  I am blessed beyond measure, and living where I do is part of that. I feel no envy for the Town Mouse and understand that the Town Mouse’s reasons for loving the city are just as valid as mine are for being a Country Mouse. I am content, and it’s perfect in the moment.

A friend of mine sends me photos of her view with the changes of the season. Her balcony overlooks the lagoon in Vancouver, BC, and it’s a treat to see what she sees as the color of the leaves changes and the reflection of the sky in the water shifts. It’s a gift that she shares with me, this window into her world. It’s my hope that you enjoyed this window into mine.

Please share with me what you love most about the place you call home. What embraces you, makes you feel welcome, and makes you feel like this is the right place for you in this moment. I’d love to hear all about it!

Love your life, wherever you are!

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to Idaho: A Country Mouse Explains Why

  1. Gwen says:

    What a wonderful message! I wish everyone could not only read it – but truly understand that each of us have a place in this world. Instead of judging others for what they believe and how they choose to live if it is different from us – we should be more understanding and actually curious to learn more, as it creates an opportunity to expand our horizons, knowledge and compassion for all that take up a little piece of this planet. There is so many species in nature and our oceans but how many people never think beyond other people? Thank you Leanna! Love the pics.

  2. Crystal King says:

    In my City mouse opinion, YOU are one of the best things about Idaho for me. 🙂

  3. Richard Rich says:

    Great story Leanna! I will miss North Idaho for sure! I Have always been more a country mouse even when I am a city mouse! Keep up the great writing it’s a gift!