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There’s nothing like the wide-open beauty of a rural sunrise or sunset. (Annette Tait/Special to Agweek)

What's to love about rural life

We're feeling the Valentine's Day love with a slightly different twist — after all, what else would you expect from us? Most of the time we write about how to make rural life better. We don't want to see our small towns and rural areas fade any farther. We want to see rural people and rural places thrive.

That's because we love living rural. And here are a few of the reasons why.

Sunrises, sunsets and stars

We get to see a lot of them, and they're gorgeous. Rural sunrises and sunsets are huge — they stretch out across the horizon as far as the eye can see, with molten golds, oranges and shades of pink, red and violet spilling over pastures, fields and trees. Sunrises help us greet each new day, and sunsets give way to skies filled with a multitude of stars. You just don't get those views in the big city.

People, places, and stories

Sure, there are plenty of people in cities. But it's just not the same. People in rural areas still know their neighbors, and even newcomers learn that the Larson place is actually where the Millers live, because the Larsons haven't lived there in 30 years (but they used to, for three, four, five generations or so). If people called it the Miller place no one would know where to go, because it's always been the Larson place. And no matter whose place it is, there are always stories to share about "that time when" something happened there, whether it was tragic, unique or hysterically funny.

Tradition

Yes, we talk a lot about "we've always done it that way" needing to change. But there's a big difference between that and tradition. Tradition is local culture, from the unsung acts of kindness to full-fledged celebrations. Like the unsung, understood gathering of neighbors helping neighbors in times of need. It's a finely tuned, quietly organized system that takes care of others. And then there are the opposite, the full-fledged celebrations of centennials, milestones and local lore that bring people home from all corners of the country. In the middle we cheer sports teams on their ways to major tournaments, help Legion Posts honor and remember our military members, and commemorate whatever other occasions just happen to float the local boat.

Community

Rural communities give all-out support to youth sports and activities, volunteer organizations and emergency services.If you read us regularly, you know we look at rural people as one big, not always happy, family. In fact, sometimes we put the "D" in "dysfunctional." But that's okay, we come together when it matters. And that's the point. It's okay to bicker a little during the process when the end result is getting the job done. And that takes a community that cares about what happens within it to keep youth activities going and support local volunteers and emergency services.

Initiative and a solid work ethic

You've heard what they say about bubble gum and baling twine? Those old jokes had a start in good old-fashioned initiative. We can't say we've ever fixed anything with bubble gum, but baling twine has figured into a whole lot of quick temporary fixes. Rural folks don't stop what they're doing when something breaks — they figure out how to get around it, using whatever's at hand. And if something can't be patched back into a workable state, they find a way to get something else done while that other things being fixed.

Those are just a few of the reasons we love living rural, and there are plenty more to choose from. What are your reasons for living rural? Or what calls you to rural life?

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