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Maybe home isn't so different after all

I recently returned from a nine-day visit to see family in Minnesota. I tell my friends that I am always reminded that this place where I grew up is a "different culture," a "different way of life," is a simpler, less sophisticated lifestyle. But is that really true? I am reflecting on that now.

Perhaps it is more a generational thing. The schoolchildren in my nephews' and nieces' families seem extremely busy. They have many activities after school, and the oldest girl even had volleyball games in the evenings on school nights. Not my school memories, but I am well past medicare qualification age.

My older sister lives in rural Minnesota. A retired farmer's wife, now a widow and living in a small town, she never fails to listen to a local radio program early each morning. She is especially listening for the funeral announcements. It is not just because she is on the funeral reception committee at her church that she does this. It is because in her community most everyone is known to everyone else. They are concerned and have compassion for the residents who experience the ups and downs of life.

I heard several conversations with her friends that went something like this:

"Marvin Anderson's son just got married and is moving back home. He graduated from Morris State and is going to farm with his dad."

"Is that the Marvin Anderson who has the farm north of Clinton?"

No that's his brother, Mike."

"He married the oldest Peterson girl, didn't he?"

"Yes, I think so."

And so on and so forth. Yes, there are few secrets in such a community. Everyone knows everyone else's business and sometimes people are judged. But the positive thing is that more often than not, people are cared about, helped and celebrated.

Is that so different from the small community where I live? Maybe not.

Jan Robertson has lived in Ashland the past 11 years.