Letter Re: Living in Small Town America


Since we moved from Front Range Colorado to Western Slope Colorado in 2010, it has been a learning experience. Even though I was raised in rural New Mexico and my husband in rural New York, we had forgotten that city folk were mistrusted in rural areas.

Some of our neighbors that we share irrigation with were great. But others equally close in the neighborhood were wary and did not respond to my gifts of fresh produce. Of course, people are busy. We took care of our property. Maybe they were worried we would be noisy, collect junk, or let our dog run. We complained to the sheriff’s office about a neighbor’s dog that barked all night most nights. They denied it was their dog though we went out at night and recorded the dog. (We learned on the front range that people do not respond favorably when their door is knocked on the next day about their dog; some come to the door with a gun.) We complained to a neighbor about his kid riding his ATV up and down our fence line at bedtime, creating clouds of dust and noise. I am talking about a semi-rural area where your neighbors are 50-100 yards away. When you talk to your neighbor 50 yards away about the rooster who goes off all day, he says “This is the country.”

Then they all found out who we were. We hunted, fished, camped, gardened, and canned just like they did. They noticed my anti-Obama bumper stickers. They learned that I did veteran’s disability exams at the local VA and began to notice that they or their kids were getting fair evaluations and subsequent benefits. A neighbor came to talk to me and offered ATV and horse rides. He is a coal miner as are many neighbors. We got invited to retirement parties. Many have been laid off here with the war on coal. People started waving to us and talking to us as we walked our Golden Retriever on a leash (the consummate yuppie city dog). The rooster must have gone to the pot. I don’t know if my attending one of the many churches in our small town even mattered. When people know who you are, then they respect you and your space.

So I would say, be yourself and friendly, but don’t be a doormat or uppity, and things will come along when you move to your retreat type property. Don’t delay. – Colorado retreat