A Country Mile

I’ve lived in both the country and the city, and I’ve often wondered what my grandfather meant when he talked about a “country mile” in comparison to a “city mile”. Gran and Grandy spent most of their lives in the country; both grew up on large farms and were no strangers to days of getting up before the sun rose and going to bed long after it went down.    

When I was a kid, I gave no thought to what the phrase meant. Most of the time, it was used in the context of something like, “It’ll be a country mile before that job gets finished.” I can assume now that it meant it would take forever. The factors to consider involve both time and distance.  But when you think about it, a mile’s a mile…isn’t it?

Not necessarily. You see, I’ve come up with several theories about the difference between a “country mile” and a “city mile“. First, there’s the difference in the pace of life between both places, and how time seems different, depending on where you are. Everyone knows that things move more slowly in the country. It’s just a way of life. People take their time, they stop to appreciate their surroundings, the natural beauty of the land to which they’re so connected. Country residents enjoy the way afternoon lazily blends toward evening, as the stars come out, they appreciate the sunset over a secluded lake, or the nearby calls of barn owls and tree frogs as the night-time spreads over the land.

The city has its own beauty, I suppose, in the twinkle of lights along a city skyline at evening, as the sky-scrapers and cement towers pulse with the heartbeat of thousands of busy people, scurrying like ants to burn the midnight oil to make their fortunes or simply reveling in the endless bars, clubs and shows of city night-life. The pace of the city is far removed from that of the country. There is something like an inaudible ‘hum’ that directs all those urban people, moving them with an energy, a hustle and bustle, the feeling that things have to be done NOW, that there is no time to wait for anything, whether it’s an elevator or a sunset. So maybe that’s one thing that makes a country mile seem longer — the miles in a city pass by in the blink of an eye because city folk are so concerned with where they’re going, they rarely take the time to appreciate the journey. In the country, taking the time to soak up the details of the journey IS more than half the fun.

The second theory I have ties into this last point, but I think it has more to do with distance than time. It’s a matter of perspective, of scenic distance vs. flat distance. There is much more natural beauty in the country, the roads twist and turn, cross hills and valleys, sometimes seem to wind forever into the woods and fields. In the country, one never knows where the next curve in the road will lead, the horizon is often unseen. In the city, the streets are usually laid out on some kind of grid, and the land is usually flat — it has to be, to support all those tons of concrete buildings. The roads in most of the large cities I have lived in often had a horizon I could see. I could look far ahead to where I was going, see the next stop-light, the next block, the next cluster of offices, businesses, or cars stuck in traffic jams. Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like if I can see the end of where I’m going, it feels like I get there faster.

image borrowed from glogster.com

image borrowed from glogster.com

My last theory is that in the past, it probably took a lot longer to get anywhere, going back to the concept of how time is different, depending on where you are. In the past, there were more cars in the city, and people in the country used horses, or horse and buggy combinations, or just plain walked to where they were going. Naturally, one would assume that cars (even the first ones) could move faster, and so a ‘city mile’ didn’t take as long to traverse as a ‘country mile’ did.  When you think about foot-power vs. gas-power, it’s easy to understand the comparison.

Whether you agree with me or not, whether you dwell in the country or the city, have you ever paused to think about how some of these sayings came to be? For me, personally, I’ll take a “country mile” over a “city mile” any day. That’s just me. But I don’t think I’ll ever again simply assume that a mile is always a mile.

About dragonkatet

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.
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10 Responses to A Country Mile

  1. I’m a city girl, strangely enough I find much more beauty in the city than in the country. Not that I don’t enjoy the country side, I do, but it’s somehow not in a harmony with the speed and the restlessness I tend to have often … Lovely thoughts!

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks, Blaga. That’s why there are city mice and country mice! 😉 I understand about the restlessness thing…do you think living in the city ever causes people to be restless?Thank you for coming by!

  2. Great idea and thoughts! I think my mind works at a Country Mile pace. 🙂

  3. siggiofmaine says:

    Just love it ! I love it when someone thinks and comes up with their own theories…
    and can express them. Thank you for sharing. I am starting to ask, now that I am
    older and ask foolish questions I never thought of before…what does “I had distemper”
    mean and where did it come from (an actual answer when someone called in sick and
    I had just moved to Maine.) It was from “back in the day” and EVERYONE knows…
    ‘cept me ! (I figured out she must have had the flu…won’t go into details, but symptoms
    ☮ ♥ Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • dragonkatet says:

      🙂 Thanks, Siggi. I thought distemper was an animal illness? Unless they were saying, “I had *this* temper” lol. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks so much for visiting!

  4. I agree wholeheartedly!! 🙂 I’d choose a country mile any day but my life runs on city miles, it has to 😦

    • dragonkatet says:

      Aw, thanks, L! Yeah, unfortunately sometimes we country mice have to become city mice out of necessity. Hope you find your way back to the country soon. 🙂

  5. Gary says:

    A wonderful observation DK!

    Not long ago I walked a few City miles in San Francisco, and found them to be more exhausting, phisically and emotionally, than Country miles.

    The course of a Country mile can offer rest stops under trees, a Dragon Fly cruising landscape, cricket songs, a pond with Lilly pads and Cattails, the scent of field grasses blowing on a breeze, the sound of a tractor tilling soil, Peter Cotton Tail might cross your path, a cow and her calf resting in pasture, a corn field ready for harvest, an old red barn with matching silo, Red Wing Balck Birds sing on a barbed wire fence, and families like the Waltons will wave a hand as you pass by.

    The course of a City mile can offer speedy convenience, window shopping, fine leather shoes and handbags, escalators, trees planted in concrete parking lots, a five story hospital with emergency trauma rooms, shopping carts an patrons eager to scratch your brand new car, foot traffic that tramples toes, fender-benders, restrooms with soggy tissue and towels tossed the floor, Graffiti, man-hole covers, fire hydrants, gutters, sidewalk chewing gum dots by the thousands, smog, police sirens, sticky-slimy-lumpy goo in the antique phone booth, honking horns, flippin’ fingers and sad accounts of road-rage .

    Country Miles are my favorite….most definitely!

    • dragonkatet says:

      Wow, thanks Gary! You conjured up soooooo many perfect images! You know, I hadn’t thought about the emotional toll of the two, but you’re absolutely right. I’ve lived in some BIG cities (like Seattle) and I definitely prefer the country. 🙂 Thanks for coming by to visit and leaving such a fantastic comment!

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