City Girl, Country Bumpkin by Susan Gibb

“Mourning doves are just country pigeons,” she argued, “and squirrels are no better than rats.”

What could he say? They’d been over this same ground a hundred times, a thousand times. He had wanted to move to the country and he couldn’t budge her until they’d both lost their high power jobs in the city. They had to make some fast decisions before their savings ran out.

They bought a falling-down farmhouse in upstate New York. She hated it. Together they fixed and replaced and painted, though their furniture never really suited the rooms. Electricity flickered in storms and she used up all the long-tapered candles. Then something changed.

For the first time she saw the sun rise without scaling the sharp edge of buildings. She heard growls and yips in the night. She learned you could make morning coffee yourself, and have pancakes drowned in syrup that came out of their neighbor’s maples in spring, boiled down to an amber thickness as priceless as gold.

She grew out of her pantsuits and stuffed her new curves into size-larger jeans. She wore plaid flannel shirts, and Pradas were traded for workboots. Her nails never grew long enough to warrant a manicure at a salon.

“Listen,” she said, “hear that?” and he told her it was nothing, just mourning doves. “Damn birds woke me up again,” he said. She smiled and scattered dried corn for the squirrels.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “City Girl, Country Bumpkin by Susan Gibb

  1. Randal Houle

    “new curves” love that.
    I like how pigeons/squirrels tie in her longing for the city.

  2. I like the transformation of the woman, but also the quality of life: from not seeing the difference between squirrels and rats, to appreciating the sunrise and maple syrup with an ” amber thickness as priceless as gold.” Mmmmm!
    Tank you.

  3. Thanks, folks! Can you tell I’m a country girl at heart?

  4. Wonderful job. Really well done.

  5. Al McDermid

    Yeah, trade in them Pradas! I’d like to convince my wife but I think just getting her to consider Portland would be a chore.

    Anyway, excellent story; especially like her development. And him complaining about the birds is priceless.

  6. Terrific. Really get a sense of the relative simplicity of country living.

    Liked ‘morning coffee’ vs. ‘mourning doves,’ but I don’t know why. And I’ve always felt that same way about squirrels.

  7. beautiful. loved this image of the sun and the city life: “without scaling the sharp edge of buildings.”
    and could almost see her there, standing and smiling.

  8. I’ve always held that squirrels were indeed rats and am glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. Couldn’t help but think of an uberhip Green Acres couple with your descriptions..

  9. This is really a sweet story, universal in some salient way, neither sex exempt. We are carved from environments as youth, and they are difficult at best to transcend. I grew up in rural upstate NY (not quite a crumbling farmhouse, but indeed a working farm!) and fled to NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, you name it… looking for something more exciting that surely did not exist outside of myself, never to the infinite degree it seems to. Coffee, pancakes, syrup, curves…these are what truly matter: the dailyness. Loved it!

  10. Len Kuntz

    i like how you brought it all around full circle. and “traded in Prada for work boots.
    nice!

  11. Love the character arcs here. It’s as if they pass each other. I also appreciate just how her body changes to reflect her new life.

  12. Just great how she comes to love nature and the land and in so doing becomes closer to nature and the land. Wonderful story

  13. Kim Hutchinson

    Lovely story, Susan. It’s not my dream, but love the way it begins and ends with the mourning doves, one of the loveliest sounds in the country.

  14. I love the sweep of this story, how the girl hates the country and grows to love it along with her new curves. The way you tied the beginning and end together with the mourning doves says it all. Lovely.

  15. This makes me want to quit it all and soak my pancakes in amber syrup priceless as gold. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Peace…

  16. Kelly Grotke

    the neighbor’s maples – yes, longing for upstate new york again all the way from Helsinki, hehe. Nice evocation.

  17. grey johnson

    Out growing can mean more than one thing, as you showed. I liked this.

  18. Pingback: Week # 30 – Urban convert | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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