Jim Freeman In the Open
October 4, 2013
Let me explain that there is a distinction between living in the country and being a country person, living in the sticks or being born in the country doesn’t necessarily make one a country person. There are many people who live in the country that really aren’t well-suited for country life.
Country to me is a frame of mind, it’s giving more than you take and pulling your own weight, making do or doing without, being independent and self-reliant, and living by an unwritten code of honor. Are country people perfect? Heck no! But for the most part they are good people, even if they have an ornery side.
But to continue from two weeks ago, here are more things that country people like:
Clothing - Young suburban people prefer North Face apparel. North Face apparel has almost become its own parody with suburbanites who have never left a paved surface wearing clothing marketed towards presenting a sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. I recall seeing a Facebook meme with the caption, “Oh I see you have a North Face jacket; what adventures you must have.”
In contrast, country people love Carhartt apparel, you know, that familiar brown, heavy duty denim that never seems to go out of style. It looks and feels rugged, and is. Of course anyone can wear it, but people who live in the boonies don’t have much time for putting on airs; they actually work in their clothes.
Similarly, blue jeans (generally Levis or Wranglers, minus the bling) are always in style for country folk, along with work boots, denim or flannel shirts. Look for the Copenhagen ring on the back pocket.
Camo – what else do I need to say?
Hats – Generally a ball cap with a properly curved bill turned the proper way which keeps the sun and rain off your face, which is on the front of your head, not on the side or in the back. The exception is if you are riding a dirt bike or ATV in which case the hat may be turned backwards, but NEVER sideways and never with a flat bill. End of discussion.
Vehicles – Red staters love their trucks. It used to be that a truck was a poor man’s vehicle, but no more; a fully loaded truck can easily cost around $50,000, more than many well-equipped luxury cars. When it comes to motorcycles, rural folk have several choices of what to ride: Sportster, Dyna, Softtail, Road King… all made by Harley-Davidson.
County people love trucks. Dogs love trucks. Ergo, country people love dogs.
When it comes to vice, we rural folk prefer drugs containing alcohol or caffeine. During the prohibition era the hollers and hills were the homes of moonshine stills. When it comes to wine there is nothing too fancy – dandelion, elderberry, you name it – if it makes a juice chances are someone makes it into wine.
Shopping – In the boonies, people shop at Wal-Mart. I know in some circles it is hip to be anti-Wal-Mart but in the country it is convenient to be able to do most of your shopping in one place that is probably bigger than your entire hometown. To entertain a country man for hours at a time, just turn him loose in Tractor Supply, Rural King or Harbor Freight.
In addition, men have been known to travel for hours to visit Cabelas and Bass Pro Shop. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts, like the boondock version of the hajj except the guys have to walk seven times around the giant indoor fish tank. Similarly, folks from the sticks love Myrtle Beach. If you go there will you notice that half the cars are sporting Ohio or West Virginia license plates. Conveniently a Bass Pro Shop is also located there.
Country people genuinely love hunting and fishing. Perhaps it hearkens back to our pioneer days when hunting and fishing was necessary and put meat on the table, or it appeals to our sense of self-reliance. Skill in hunting and fishing, and related skills like marksmanship, boat handling or preparing jerky or sausage are greatly admired traits.
Ever heard the song “Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr.? That pretty much sums it up.
When you get right down to it, what real country people love most is each other, their families and their neighbors, and pride in their communities. They might themselves be critical of their hometown or county, but will always be the first to defend them.
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or firstname.lastname@example.org