Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Country Upbrings

One of my apple pies ready to go into the oven. (usually I use green apples)
All year my housemates have commented on my "country-ness."  Here are some of the things they have observed.  

1. I make homemade pies from scratch.
I have always made pies from scratch and was taught how to at a young age in a very specific way. You know, because my Great Grandma said there was only one way to make a pie and this is the way you do it. (My Mom taught me her techniques and her pie crust recipe.) So I have grown up thinking this is the way pie is always to be made. Well a few weeks ago I made an apple pie and my housemates/friends said "Why didn't you go out and buy some pie crust from the store?" The thought had honestly never occurred to me. Why would I do that??!  And then they tasted the pie crust and understood why.

My Senior HS pictures.. Also very country.

2. I have a cedar hope chest. I had no idea that this is another 'country idea.' Originally hope chests were supposed to be filled with things for a young women for her future home (things like fancy linens and clothing etc). My hope chest is not filled with things necessarily for the future, but rather things from my past. For example, the baby clothes I wore, my baby blankets, my brownie girl scout uniform, my old gymnastics leotards, I even think my baptism candle is in there. For me its more of a box of memories, but apparently still makes "so country."

3. The way I use language. It's not that I have a certain accent or dialect (have you ever heard of northwestern pacific coast accent?... I don't think so). Ok I just googled it and I guess I'm mistaken wikipedia says there is such a thing: click on it here to see. (OMG I do the elk.. ilk thing, well this is news to me.) Anyway, this is probably more of a regional thing than a "country" thing. But in the Midwest they were ALWAYS correcting my language since I do not use "formal" English and "sounds" well. I think my use of language seriously frustrated some of them. Finally I told them I use language and speak like my people and my people speak and use language like me.

4. I drive stick shift.  This impresses people all the time and I'm quite proud of it. My Grandpa used to tell me that this was really important to know. Not that only country people drive stick shift I know this is not true, but it's more of an expectation in the country to know this. I also know how to check my oil and refill it if the car leaks oil... this is something I had to teach Lauren this year. AND.. I have also replaced a water pump in an old ford pick-up with my Dad when I was probably 12 years old. Fun stuff.

5. I have passed gun safety class and can get my hunting license at anytime if I choose. This is another one of those unfortunate things my parents called 'part of my education.' I hated gun safety class. I still have no intention to ever go hunting or to own a gun anytime soon, but I do have a deep respect for guns, know exactly how to safely handle one, and know how to use one if I ever needed too. Plus, I'm not afraid of them like I used to be when I was younger. But again my housemates like to tell me "that's SO country!!"

Hamburgers ready for the Grill.
6. I have been to a slaughter house and have seen its dynamics. This is another one of those things I don't really like to bring up to people because it's kind of morbid. But there's a lot of life and death in rural areas that is different from other more urban places. Another part of my 'education' as my Dad likes to say. It's an experience that's for sure, but it's also business. But when I'm in Washington you can bet I pay attention to where my meat is coming from and if it's local. It's harder outside of Washington because I don't know the area as well... plus I don't eat meat often anyway. But I do value the origin of the meat I eat and my housemates hide the Tyson chicken from me because they know its not my first choice.

Irrigation System in the Rural Eastern Washington Desert.

7. I know the dynamics of a farm second-hand. I have never worked on a farm, but my brothers have and I grew up surrounded by farms. It means working 12+ hours a day in the summer, driving a tractor (maybe with air conditioning if you are lucky), troubleshooting on the fly, gambling with weather, and waking up before sunrise to name a few. It also means when the neighbors pigs get out (again) you get a phone call to help round them up. My ignorant self was surprised in college when I met people who had never been on a tractor ride before. Perhaps what I find more amusing is that there are times when I say to my housemates, I can tell you did not grow up around farms. Then they look at me confused and its hard for me to explain. The work ethic is completely different on a farm than it is other places. Some things are more 'intuitive' to me than them, like how to stack and move boxes of food efficiently. 

Sometimes when I miss my hometown I will do things that I would NEVER do if I was living in my hometown. For instance, I do NOT listen to country music when I'm in Moses Lake. It's not the 'cool' thing to do. However, when I'm away and miss home that's the first thing I listen to. It's kind of like my friend who grew up in Texas who would never dream of wearing cowgirl boots in Texas, but now that she lives out of the state she wears them all the time. Interesting how that works. I secretly have always wanted a cowgirl hat since I left Washington, but could never bring myself to buy one. First of all they are super expensive; second of all, if I were to ever wear a cowgirl hat in my hometown, people would look at me and say "Hochstatter, what are you doing?!?" and then they might invite me to do something bizarre like horseback riding or something. (and... I'm afraid of horses. minor detail.)

In the end I don't really consider myself a country girl, even though I know all the words to every country song (new and old). But its interesting how some of those rural tendencies sneak out in normal day life. I also find it interesting how well I seem to travel between the different worlds I live in and how people perceive that. It reminds me of a beautiful essay I read in feminist epistemology written by Maria Lugones called Playfulness, "World"-Traveling, and Loving Perception. Like Lugones, I find myself much more playful in some "worlds" than others and for some reason my rural home has always been a place of much less playfulness.

View of the sunset from my childhood home.


  1. I can't even BEGIN to tell you how much I loved this post! It made me so nostalgic, as I grew up deep in the country (a tiny town with a population of 800 - no joke). I could identify with so many of these things. Even though I went away to college and am about graduate from grad school, I'll still never lose those roots. Great post as always my friend.

    1. Thanks! Yeah I never really realized I had so many 'country' traits until this year when my housemates started pointing them all out.. it was always 'normal' before. Ha ha. What sort of country traits do people comment on about you?

    2. My accent more than anything else - people constantly comment on it!