NEIGHBORS Beyond City Limits


reflecting on the culture of rural neighborhoods

Mike Perry

I am blessed with wonderful neighbors out in the country. They watch our chickens when we’re gone, lend me tools when I need them, swap babysitting and kid-hauling chores, come up and plow the corn plot or cut the oats when I have to be gone on book tour – all of those things are very tangible neighborly things that only come about if you take the time to meet your neighbors. Although I’m a country mouse with wonderful country neighbors, I think sometimes city people (especially in neighborhoods or downtowns) actually get to know their neighbors better than us rural folk because these days we “rural folk” often only see each other when we’re hammering back and forth on our paved rural roads in our high-speed vehicular cocoons – whereas city folk are actually more likely to see each other when afoot or biking.

In the country, you have to make the effort to meet you neighbors. When we first moved to our farm, my wife made a dinner and invited everyone up and down the road. I would NEVER have done that because I’m a guy who prefers to just hole up. But that get-together wound up introducing us to the history and the stories of the place – not in some artsy sense, just through shooting the breeze – and left us comfortable with the idea that we could ask for help from our neighbors when we needed it. I’m still grateful my wife went to the trouble of setting that up.


Perry, a native of New Auburn, is an acclaimed author, humorist and bona fide country mouse. His new young adult novel, Scavengers, is available now at the Local Store and wherever books are sold.

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