I love living in the country. People care about each other here, and they help each other. This is different from the city. I know: I lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. Down there, people don’t know their neighbors, and they don’t really want to. If your car breaks down, you’re as likely to get mugged as helped by a passerby, but you’re more likely to be ignored.
Over the past few days, I got to see the country way of life in action. There are several ranchers who graze cows in my neighborhood. “Neighborhood” may be a bit of an overstatement – it’s mostly empty fields growing a mixture of sagebrush and native grasses. It’s a good place to graze cattle in the spring before the ranchers move the cows up to the mountain for the summer.
Wednesday night about dusk, a herd of cows broke through a fence and were wandering the neighborhood. I didn’t know whose cows they were, but I know Reyes grazes cows out here, so I called him.
“Do they have tags on them?” he asked me.
“They do,” I told him. “They’re green and yellow.”
“Well, they’re not mine,” he replied. “They might belong to Kim. But I’ll come out and take a look.”
Reyes drove out and checked out the cows, and found that they belonged to Coy. He called Coy, and together they rounded up the cows and put them back in the pasture where they belonged.
Reyes would do that because he knows Coy would do the same for him. Or Kim, or any of the other ranchers. In fact, last night, a bunch of cows got out again. This time, I called Coy.
“I don’t think they’re mine,” Coy told me. “I think they probably belong to Reyes. But I’ll come out and take a look.”
It turns out that they did belong to Coy, and he and one of his sons rounded them up, finishing up about midnight. But if they’d been Reyes’s cows, Coy would have been there helping.
This morning, Reyes and some other men on horses started moving their cows to the mountain. Coy was there, helping.
That’s the kind of community I grew up in back in New Hampshire. Decades in Los Angeles made me think that such communities no longer exist. But they do. This is the kind of community spirit in which people know and respect each other. They help each other. And crime rates are lower, especially violent crime. It seems that crime by definition requires a lack of respect for other people, which is why there’s more of it in the city than in the country.
This is the America I loved as a child. I’m grateful that it hasn’t disappeared.