Village (assisted) Living
by Mark Blackwell
The time has finally come to where I am considering the possibility of coming up with a plan to maybe move off the ridge. I know that I sound a little ambivalent but I’ve survived High School, war, and raising three daughters and I am from the generation that invented sex, drugs and rock and roll. So, I guess that I thought that I might carry on with life the way I always have. But circumstances change. I’m okay with that but it’s the fact that they don’t consult me first that ticks me off.
There are several factors that have led to this “railway of cogitation.” One is that my chain saw seems to be gaining weight. I have tried to ignore it for the last couple of years but I am sure that it is heavier now than when I bought it. The snakes are getting faster, too–and who wants to come in last in a rattlesnake relay. And I swear the roof on the cabin has grown taller, the hills have gotten higher and worst of all–the days are getting shorter. I can’t get near as much done as I used to. I think, maybe, the days have shrunk up as a result of daylight savings time.
I hear that the modern thing to do is to move into an “assisted living community,” but I’m not all that much of a “modern” feller. So, the first idea that crossed my mind is swapping out the “little old cabin in the lane” for a place in town –if you count Nashville as a town. But I think, for most of its history, Nashville has been considered a village. According to my Funk and Wagnall’s, a village is “a small community or group of houses in a rural area, usually smaller than a town.” I reckon that pretty much fits Nashville, give or take an idiot. And, I think I would choose to move to a village rather than some other kind of place.
After spending considerable time out here in the rear-end of nowhere, Nashville can be downright fascinating. A village is the original “assisted living” community. It has about anything I might want or need. First off, for dire necessaries it’s got the IGA store and Bear Hardware. And if I was to get hard up for tee- shirts or socks, there’s a shop on every block. For general entertainment and the answers to questions that memory can no longer be relied on to supply,
Nashville has a great little Library. And if I happen to win the lottery, there are enough diners and restaurants that I wouldn’t have to visit the same place twice in a week. And the best part is that Nashville ain’t so big I could get lost.
It’s pretty obvious that the town is small enough to walk just about everywhere. That’s a good thing because by the time I move into the metropolis I might not be able to get a driver’s license. If I could get a license the community probably would not be too happy about my creative driving. Maybe I could buy a lifetime pass on the “Nashville Express” tourist train and I could get around town using it like a trolley.
Nashville has possibilities and it has character.
In the modern age, it seems like there have been only three fates for a village. One, is to be swallowed up by the nearest, out-of-control, metropolis. Another is to surrender to strip mall-ification. And the third is to just deflate, dry up, and disappear. But Nashville has negotiated all of these fates at various times and has managed to maintain its particular character.
I think Nashville retained its character in part because of the way it came into being. It is the county seat of a county made up of parts of the rural Hoosier landscape that other counties would rather not have to deal with. It was the kind of place that folks who were already there, stayed there, and suffered no great influx of outsiders. So, the folks of Brown County in general and Nashville in particular were left alone to develop a unique culture. In Brown County, the natives are not restless.
Most of the folks in Brown County possess a sense of self-reliance that encourages the development of a set of skills that are rapidly vanishing in our society. Folks here have always known how to grow decent gardens, what trees make the best firewood, how to hunt, and how to repair just about any machinery they come across. It is a good thing because the people here are the kind who share their skills and knowledge with each other when need arises.
I don’t think I have ever heard of a community that is more direct and hands on when it comes to helping each other and the community at large. If something needs fixing there never seems to be a shortage of volunteers. When somebody gets into trouble you can count on somebody to organize a fundraiser and everybody else to show up. As far as I can tell, it has always been this way. Back when the county was founded, neighbors relied on each other to help build cabins and barns, harvest crops, nurse the ill and injured, and midwife births. That sounds like assisted living to me.
People create bonds through shared labor and experience. That sort of thing probably goes unnoticed in the big cities where anonymity is more valued. You just buy your way into and out of trouble in a big town. Given another decade or two I just might move into the village–that is, if they have room for another idiot.