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A city slicker swayed by the rural idyll

The move from the big city to rural outskirts is one that’s frequently covered by books and movies, often with a certain whimsical romanticism.

Typically involving a stressed city worker who abandons their New York dream for an unwanted-but-necessary trip back home, vowing it won’t be long before they’re back in the big smoke where they belong, the genre’s exemplified by Reese Witherspoon as doe-eyed protagonist in the early 2000’s flick ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

Great movie, even if it is a cliché, with apparently mandatory scenes featuring frustration at the lack of cell service, a mistaken stomp in a cow pat, and strange noises from a mysterious animal outside.

It’s ironic, then, that after my move over the hill from Wellington, all three above things happened to me within a week.

Another cliché – but one especially true for Wairarapa – is local connection and community support.

This is seen in the stunning range and quantity of posts that appear in community Facebook groups, many logging over 10 posts a day.

In Wellington, the closest thing comparable to this is the Vic Deals Facebook page, but with over 200,000 members the online forum doesn’t have the same close-knit effect.

A ride-along with Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic Andrew Gladding last month also showed just how vital community connection is here.

Gladding mentioned the social differences between working in a rural landscape and the trenches of inner city Wellington.

In Wellington, it’s constantly busy and there aren’t many chances to pause for breath.

In Wairarapa, there are more opportunities for holistic engagement and community connection, and the paramedics really get to know the people they’re treating and vice versa.

On a less serious note, another thing to adapt to has been an up close and personal relationship with the herd of cows that appear periodically in my next-door paddock.

I’m used to these neighbours now, and have even grown fairly fond of them.

They certainly beat the sound of smashing of glass, and loud drum and bass, and the thick scent of a leafy green herb from last year’s quarters.

However, rural living has its own soundbox, and I’m not sure which is stranger – the ghostly silence that accompanies home life when your nearest [human] neighbours are a kilometre away, or the odd sounds that are amplified in between the quiet.

The other night, home alone at about 9pm, from the darkness outside came a noise I’d never heard before.

It was a sharp groan, harsh and deep in delivery, and it went on for quite some time.

Only slightly panicked, I took an eight-second recording and sent it to a friend who, unlike myself, is very well-versed in the art of country living and cows.

She replied immediately.

Not to worry, turns out it’s mating season for the herd that’s moved in next door.

My noisy neighbours are just loud, proud and lustful bulls, and armed with that information, I slept soundly.

In any case, the bovine chorus is surely preferable to the human equivalent you sometimes get from close-quarter city living.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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