Photo Essay

The Rural Town....and its Four-Legged Friends

Country Life

Everyone knows of one, even if they've never been. The rural town is hidden down that road you never take, the road that ends at the water's edge or just becomes a large field of corn or soybeans. Signs like "End State Maintenance", "Dead End" or "Road Ends in .8 Miles" give you pause but you continue just out of curiosity, or perhaps you hope the sign is old and forgotten and the road really does continue.

Along these roads surrounded by woods and interspersed with open fields and country stores, you meet the characters and the citizens that make up this small out-of-the-rat-race community. You see the dogs and cats that wander the roads where a slower pace of life dominates and the fear of runaway pets or roadside feline and canine tragedies doesn't figure into daily thought. That little gray cat that hangs out at the general store on the corner....oh, that's ol' Miss Stewart's cat, Noel. She's been around here a coon's age. She won't harm a soul.

As you wander inside the store, the heart-pine floorboards creek with each step. You open up the cooler and pull out a bottle of Coca-Cola and pop the top on the bottle opener on the side of the cooler. You stand by the cooler for a minute to breathe in the cool refrigeration for a minute to relieve the heat of the summer day. As you lean back your head to take a sip of your cola, Noel weaves between your legs, purring gently. You smile and lean down to give her a scratch behind the ears. She then trots on away, ready to greet the next patron.

Down the road a few miles, Mr. Lewis' dog, Chester, hangs out with him at the local feed store, watching the farm trucks come in. The farmers load their trucks with feed while the missus wanders into the back room to share the latest gossip with Mrs. Lewis, who gives you a slice of her famous apple pie and cup of coffee.

Chester wanders over and you put your plate on the floor for him to lick off the crumbs. He wags his tail appreciatively and you pat him on the head. He settles onto the cool floor with a contented sigh, his cold nose lightly grazing your ankles. You smile at the delicate touch and at the knowledge that Chester has found a happy place

At the post office, there's an orange tabby that has made his home there. He strolls around on the porch and greets the folks who come to get their mail and maybe a pound of ground beef from the butcher in the back, who also happens to be the postmaster. Where else in America can you get fresh meat and your mail but at the rural post office?

All across America there are these little gems – towns that exist beyond the hustle and bustle of city life, where the pace is slower, the people friendlier and the way of life simple. These towns dot the American landscape and hold treasures, such as Chester the dog, Noel the cat and the stray orange tabby that has taken up residence at the post office.

So when you travel to those little towns and exhale the stress of the city, lean down and pat the head, rub the belly or scratch the ears of that rural town pet, who knows the secret to life is living it a little slower and savoring the flavor of every moment.

These photos are of just such a town. I spent the years of my young adult life (from age 12 to 18) in this rural town, with many trips back. I couldn't wait to get out when I graduated high school, but ended up moving back there years later for a while.

I will always enjoy the memories and appreciate the whole small town vibe.

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4 responses

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (9 Jul 2013):

    Great shots!!! and nice narration.... Vote Kelly...

  • Kelly Nichols

    Kelly Nichols said (9 Jul 2013):

    Thank you, Saroj!

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner said (13 Jul 2013):

    This gets a big yes vote from me because I'm fortunate enough to live near a few of these tiny country gems.
    This story could have been about Rock Creek,Dorset,Hartsgrove.
    All small Ohio farm towns exactly as you describe in your story right down to the old orange tabby who's made Andrew's Hardware Store his home and works as the friendly store greeter.

    And if your travels bring you through Northeast Ohio be sure to stop in at the Times Square Diner in beautiful Kinsman,Ohio.
    They have the best fresh brewed coffee and homemade pies on the planet !

    Awesome story and photos Kelly !
    Very close to the heart ; )

  • Geoff Plant

    Geoff Plant said (14 Jul 2013):


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