I couldn’t help but notice that Hayesville, NC was not mentioned in the Ten Most Stressful Cities in the country this week.
That is one of the reasons we moved here. Tiny town, in a small county in the mountains where we felt we were in a time warp. Back to the late fifties, I thought.
And even now, fifteen years later, I love this quiet, laid back lifestyle. I don’t know how folks live in a big city. Barnes and Noble book stores, Target, nor fancy restaurants are worth the traffic, the lack of neighbors who reach out and care, and the knowledge that the good people of the town outnumber the bad and the good folks are there for you.
While my sister in Atlanta likes the anonymity of shopping at Publix where nobody knows her name, I enjoy going to our one supermarket and running into several people I know. Recently I saw Alice, my neighbor, with an older woman who turned out to be the mother of Alice’s partner. Immediately we began talking, and soon I found that Dot was from near my mother’s home town. Within the next few weeks Dot was signed up for one of my classes. Now she and I are friends all because we met in the supermarket.
I doubt I’d ever have met her if we had been in a big city store. I doubt I would have known Alice was my neighbor.
Yesterday my sister from Atlanta visited me. Before she left to go home I noticed a low tire on her car. We drove down to Rich’s garage. He has been extremely helpful to me since my husband passed away. Although he was busy, he stopped and removed the nail and plugged her tire.
“Five dollars, Ma’am,” he said. “It’s going to be fine.”
And soon she was on her way.
Although we know each other and know more than we need to know about each other, the folks in our town are not malicious in their gossip. At least I’ve not found anyone to be so. Most of the talk regards concern for each other. “Have you heard that Alma is back in the hospital?” I overheard a woman asking a man in line at Ingles. “Yes, she fell last week and I think she might have a broken leg.”
Best of all, I can travel anywhere in our county and feel safe. I don’t know of any “bad” neighborhoods. People are open and friendly. They smile and speak to me when I meet them on the street or in a store even if we don’t know each other personally. We see each other around town and feel we know each other.
The youth of our area make me proud. Young men open doors for me and are gracious when they do. In a restaurant, eating alone and doing some writing, I was surprised to have a young man who worked there come over and begin a conversation. He was curious about my writing, and soon he was seated and telling me about his life, his problems and his decision to go to college in the fall. I don’t think this would ever happen in a big city. First of all, I’d not likely become friendly with a teenager in Atlanta. I wouldn’t be comfortable. Our crime rate is low in our little town. Not like the city I moved from in Georgia. When I go back there to visit, I’m warned to hold my purse close to my side and keep an eye out for anyone around me. No one ever says that in Hayesville.
I hired a couple of local high school boys to move some furniture for me, a heavy chest had to go downstairs and another moved upstairs. They resisted the twenty dollars I paid them saying “This is too much. You don’t have to pay us that much.” Respectful and generous -- someone instilled good values in these boys.
I am a small town girl, a rural life girl, a person who loves the open spaces, fields of green that go on and on until they reach the trees along the creek. When the sun is setting over the mountains and glistens pink on the lake, I offer my thanks for the life I have in this wonderful place.