Keeping my small country town alive 2



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An empty shop is a sad sight when you live in a small country town. When any decline is felt personally. Most of our shops are fully operational, but a number are for sale. It seems in a town like ours everything is a reflection of the weather.

This is a farming community, mainly dairy, when it rains everyone rejoices. After all our economy depends on good feed for the animals. I want our town to survive so even I try to rejoice about rain, yet the deeply entrenched English in my background makes me think ‘damn rain again’.

Yet when drought depletes the feed stocks and sends people broke, there are those that just give up and suicide is often the only answer they can find. The eight years of drought when we first came were desperate times to live through. This year we have had rain, never at the right time, but enough, most farmers seem to be showing optimism, and the town is starting to live again. We have at least five coffee shops and the two hotels brew real coffee too. The two supermarkets have their loyal customers. The older ones loyal to the small chain, others who only shop in the large supermarket. Friday is a busy day but not like it used to be when farmer’s wives gathered for lunches and dressed up in hats and wore gloves.

The year follows a pattern, Camp Draft in January, Easter Festival which is the big event of the year; At that time 2000 people is swelled to four times that number, as students come home, friends and family arrive and visitors come to camp here, the town is buzzing for a few days. This year was excellent. There are art shows, all through the year, and used to be an Agricultural Show, it died a death last year, but the rumbles of life are appearing, I think it will be back!! A fight for its revival is happening, so the cakes will be made, the bread baked, the art completed, the animals brushed and polished and it will live again. I shall again enter my Geraniums, and hope for another small prize… For three blooms of different types. I will win about 4 dollars if I do.
The beautiful souls who live here, the characters, the kind ones, the 102 year old still baking sponges, make our town special, make it unique. I would hate it to die or change too much. There is very little extra building here, as it is a town mainly populated by older couples. The sea is close, the hills are beautiful, and it is a peaceful place.

We have in our own way contributed as much as we can. I worked in home care, and then at the hospital, at the same time cleaned the local school. Husband was a Lion member, helped with the art show, was on the hospital board, and was for three years a councillor.

We eat at the Hotels, we regularly shop at the supermarket, and we drink our strong flat white coffee in the coffee shops, and enter the art shows. So we ‘belong’ to this town and regard it with affection, I hope we can call it home forever.

Do you live in a small town?



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Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. well done Jacqui 🙂 I have just moved to a small community and am newly retired. I came here initially for six months but would like to stay here for a longer period. My dilemma at present is that being newly arrived I dont want to seem over eager at the same time I will be more engaged and stay longer if I am more involved. Its a delicate path to walk when moving into a new community especially a small town with long traditions. I hope that I will bring some of your enthusiasm diplomacy and wisdom to the task as time goes by.

    1 REPLY
    • Hi Clare, I have just come across this post and can relate to your post. I also live in a relatively small regional town and the thing that I found hardest to relate to was the total lack of privacy. Your business is automatically everyone else’s business. If you can come to terms with that the feeling of inclusion is great. After 15 years I am still not sure that if given the chance to return to the city that I would not jump at it.

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