It's been six months now since we moved out to the middle of these Illinois cornfields from the near-northwest Chicago suburbs (where I spent most of my life), so I figure now's a good time to look back on what we've learned.
1. People consider the "neighborhood" an amorphous area of about 5 square miles around you, and everyone within that space and even beyond will know everything about you that anyone can find out.
2. All of those people will do anything they can to make your time on this Earth more bearable, at any time of day or night.
3. When Jehovah's Witnesses don't manage to catch you at home, they will hand write a personalized letter to enclose with the pamphlet they mail you instead.
4. Feed corn is nowhere near as delicious as sweet corn, but feed corn is all anyone wants to grow.
5. If Nature loves you, then a scraggly-looking stand of bush-like trees surrounded by tall weeds can turn out to actually be a few mulberry trees grown together... and mulberry pie is easy to make and extremely delicious*... and because of this, the weed-free stand of noble arbors will begin to look more and more beautiful to you every day.
6. I must get some livestock. I just HAVE to! Conveniently, I also find myself really wanting to.
7. The slow pace of life and constant contact with the cycles of Nature can turn you into an 80-year-old surprisingly quickly. Suspenders seem practical, TV seems unnecessary and loud, everything is more satisfying when done yourself, and a bout of shingles is apparently par for the course.**
8. Children can entertain themselves for a surprisingly long time right in your yard. Just with sticks 'n' stuff.***
9. The ability to do whatever you feel like without everybody looking over your shoulder is intoxicating, and I find myself daydreaming about where would be best to launch my fireworks and set up my shooting range (factoring in my future prairie, forest, giant firepit, pond, 9-hole golf course, and gardens).
10. Wearing a shirt feels like suiting up in a tuxedo or a parka, depending on the weather and the fabric. It's definitely one of the worst parts about going in to town.
* The only troublesome part is removing the little stems from each fingernail-staining berry, though some say you don't really need to.
** I'm pretty sure they'll repossess your house, or at least your land, if you don't develop it within 6 months. I made it just under the wire!
*** Only provided they have no apparent supervision.