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Trading Life in the ‘Burbs for Life in the ‘Ville

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Garrettsville - I was awakened this morning to the sounds of carriage wheels rolling along and the clip-clop of horses’ hooves as an Amish buggy passed by on the road in front of the house. As I rolled over for a few more zzz’s, I smiled to myself, thinking, “Some people have the ‘burbs. We have the ‘ville.”

Having grown up in the thick of Lakewood’s suburbia, I’m often struck by the differences between life in the ‘burbs versus life in the village. Let me count the ways…

Number One: In the ‘burbs, we had more traffic lights than we could count, and traffic jams that lasted so long, I would jump out of my parents’ car and jog home, beating the rest of the family to the door. Here in the village, we have one full-scale traffic light. If there are more than four cars ahead of me at an intersection, I figure it’s either the weekend for our annual Community-Wide Yard Sale, or a main artery has been closed to clear the way for a parade.

Number Two: Speaking of parades, nothing brings home Garrettsville’s Mayberry Effect better than an old-fashioned parade. Whether it’s Memorial Day or Homecoming, Garrettsville’s parades bring residents out to the streets for a rekindling of the unity inherent in ’community.’

Number Three: The suburbs offer so many choices when it comes to grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations and banks, it’s rare to run into a friend or neighbor when running errands in town. Here in the village, our choices are limited. The trade-off is that every errand is a social activity, so be sure to allow extra time in your schedule for the inevitable reunion in Aisle Five.

Number Four: There’s something in the air. Wherever you live, that place carries certain scents along on the breezes. In Lakewood, it’s a combination of bus, car and truck fumes, mixed in with wafts of sulfur-laden overflow from Cleveland’s steel mills. Good thing there are lots of old-growth trees that help filter out some of those pollutants. Here in G’ville, the seasons seem to dictate the scent: In Springtime, it’s the flowering trees, rain and freshly-turned soil; in Summer, it’s freshly-cut hay, barbeque grills or hot fumes from Harleys, fast cars and slow tractors; in Fall, it’s fallen leaves, manure-treated fields and pumpkins; in Winter, it’s fresh snow, Cal’s fried chicken or boiling sap.

Number Five: Which reminds me… Our family took a big adventure one cold March Saturday when I was about 5 years old. All seven of us crammed into the green Chevy station wagon for a road trip to Burton’s Maple Syrup Festival.

We left suburbia behind and drove a world away to a rustic town square dotted with log cabins, maple trees draped with tin buckets, and a sugar shack where sweet steam billowed out the chimney and from every crack between the logs that made up the walls. Amish buggies and people dressed like pioneers populated the town. I truly thought I had traveled back in time.

Now I know you don’t have to travel back in time to enjoy an older, slower way of life. You just have to drive away from the tangle of boulevards and freeways that typify life in the ‘burbs and keep going until the cement parking lots and big box stores give way to farmers’ fields, thick stands of trees and an uncluttered horizon. You can trade your alarm clock from the arrivals and departures of roaring jets taking off and landing for the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the rolling wheels of an Amish buggy. Welcome to life in the ‘ville.

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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.