Country Mouse, City Mouse

country-mice-4 Both Eric and I were born country mice. We grew up in homes surrounded by space and corn fields, few neighbors, and an impossible amount of trees. We grew up to the sounds of rushing creeks and the occasional coyote and stern warnings about watching out for deer as we grabbed keys and headed out the door at night in high school. We grew up where dogs were let out the back door to do their business where they pleased, usually and courteously near the edge of the woods.

Now, we, and our children by default, are city mice. Instead of acres of backyard, we have city parks with playground equipment and splashpads. We are within minutes authentic Indian curries, Greek falafels, and Vietnamese pho. We take city buses and can listen to different languages spoken in our grocery store aisles. We hear sirens and fireworks and planes that fly low overhead, and we could go and see good live music almost every night of the week.

City Mice

We’ve traded the local Pizza Hut for six different hand-crafted, artisanal, wood-fired pizza options…the Dairy Queen that’s been there since 1954 for sea salt & caramel ice cream made with locally sourced milk…the town-pride local high school for the possibility of sending our kids to any one of hundreds of public, private, charter, or magnet schools….the sound of a forest full of birds for ceaseless traffic…open sky for sky scrapers.

Country Mice. City Mice.


Every few months, I just say it outloud: “Should we live in the country? We could have a huge backyard and a dog, and I could start over decorating in a great big farmhouse and have a giant garden, and our kids could run outside unsupervised, and we could live where it was quiet and still possible to hear the wind in the trees.”

And then we talk about the reality of living far apart from the deep community we’ve cultivated here. We talk about starting over, finding a church, learning a new grocery store. And how difficult it would be to find web design and development work for Eric, much less an ESL job for me if and when I return to work.

City Mice

We talk about what we’d miss about the city – the cultures, the food, museums and festivals, meeting people at the park. We talk about the isolation that is often rural living, how everything is at least fifteen minutes away. We talk about wanting our kids to know how big and wide and varied the world is. And we agree, that for now, we are city mice, and our children will be too.

And a few months down the road, the conversation starts over again.

Country Mice

We entertain ideas about where. Closer to one of our families. Maybe outside of Rochester or Duluth…a medium sized city with lots of pretty space around it. But still close to Minneapolis. Sometimes we talk about moving to a place with mountains.

But we look for the open doors. And for now, they are open to this city. And mostly, we love it here. It is a city – full of vibrancy and life and mostly loveable weirdos– permeated by parks and trees and rivers and lakes. Oh…and the seemingly endless food (Birchwood, Broders’,  and Brasa, Barbette, Bachelor Farmer, and Bar La Grassa…and that’s just the B’s.)  Plus, I’m fairly certain essential parts of my soul would shrivel up and die if I lived in a place where everyone looks the same. But every so often, I get antsy for fresh air and the sound of tree frogs at night.

And you? Are you a country mouse? City mouse? Or something in between?

Country Mice


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10 thoughts on “Country Mouse, City Mouse

  1. City mouse, hands down. I grew up 20 minutes from a big city, and now I live in a medium size city, at least for what I’m used to. Sometimes we talk about moving out but I can’t really see ourselves living more than 30 minutes away from a metropolis. I need to be surrounded by people, walk down the street and have restaurants, stores, cafes, etc. It’s always the eternal dilemma – should we pay the same but get more space or stay here. Like you, we revisit the idea every few months.

    • Good to know I’m not alone. Also, my country-living family thinks I’m kind of crazy for enjoying the fact that people walk down the street.

  2. I’m somewhere in between as well. You should come to La Crosse! Seriously. So. many. tree frogs. Also bluffs are basically achievable mountains. We live in a spot that feels like country but is only 1 mile outside of town. There are deer in our backyard. The food is questionable but we’re getting our first farm to table restaurant next week! I’m beyond excited.

    • Love your bluff description. So true. However, once Eric and I hiked a bluff near Redwing, MN (not too far from you), and there were basically 800 rattlesnakes, and I almost passed out. But beyond that, your description of La Crosse sounds pretty great. Excited for you and your restaurant :)

  3. I am most DEFINITELY a country mouse! I do love to visit the city every now & then, but the small community I live in here in the mountain valleys is best for my soul! The city feels too metal/electric/hard and the country green/relaxed/old time. Maybe it is my love for Little House on the Prairie, but the country sings to my heart like the city never did. I grew up a little outside of town, somewhat country-like, with dogs and cats. I rode my bike with my brother down gravel roads and ventured into the woods every day to play. I do ponder though, If EVRYONE loved the country there wouldn’t be room for everyone, so I don’t fight getting others to agree :)

    • Ha – I’m definitley with you on the gravel roads and woodsy adventure childhood. And Laura Ingalls Wilder was basically my childhood hero. Such a pull to be where there is quiet! Glad you’ve found your spacd!

  4. I love the way you write!! Another fantastic post! I grew up a city mouse, and now I live in the middle of country and city…I live in Milwaukee, WI, but then drive 45 minutes to work, and definitely drive through corn fields and farms. We have the same conversation every few months too…whether or not we should move from the city to be closer to my work, it’s such a tough decision! But right now we’re city mice :)

  5. I saw your lovely comment over at Journey Mama, and I had to stop by. I am at home in the country and the city. I think I really have whatever that gypsy thing is, I don’t want to put down fiscally responsible roots. I want to see what is over there! or there! or there!

    • Oh thanks for popping over! I just love that blog and Rachel herself! I hear you on the gypsy thing – things just begin to feel so settled after a while, I know!

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