Since we moved to Hunters, I have been noticing some of the differences in living here and living in Nine Mile Falls. Although they are both considered small towns or rural, there are some oddities that set them apart.
One of things I first noticed was the strong sense of community there is here. Granted the place is small enough that every one knows everyone or are related to them. Nine Mile did have a lot of community minded people but here the residents look after each other in a very real way. Whether it’s delivering wood to the elderly or chipping in to help a neighbor put in a water system, nobody will falter. But it still welcomes newcomers. You will do well here if you remember that there is an acceptable behavior. This town has been here for a long time and so have the majority of its residents. For the most part they like it the way it has always been. They were here first and if they want something changed they will ask for it or do it themselves. This might seem a bit proprietary but the system works very well.
Personally, I find it kind of refreshing. They have everything they need here. I don’t know what the population of Hunters is but it can’t be much more than three hundred souls. You will find a Post Office, a library, a fire department, a school, a food bank, a free thrift store, a grocery store, a bar, a senior center, senior living housing complex, a grange, a museum, 2 churches, a restaurant and hardware store in another church and a campground.
Among the citizens, you will find quilters, hair stylist, plumbers, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, electricians, loggers, dry-wallers, goat herders, cowboys and cowgirls, arborists, garbage collectors, painters, carvers, artists, and many more skilled folks.
Many people have come here to get off the grid. They are self-sufficient, they raise their own vegetables, their own animals or hunt for their meat. The women can their fruit and vegetables. Everyone has a generator, a well, solar power and some source of heat and light. They raise chickens, goats, cows, sheep, and even horses.
In spite of the high level of independence everyone looks after each other. You can get free produce all summer (I know), free breakfast all fall and winter, free lunch 3 days a week and if that’s not enough, every holiday sprouts a flurry of pot luck suppers which bring the whole community together.
Although I am talking about Hunters, we live half way between the community of Hunters and Fruitland. They are about 2 miles in either direction. Fruitland is a little smaller and its residents are spread out. They have a garage and grocery store/hardware and the only gas in the area. We have met folks from both communities and have found great friends in both.
You know you are in a small town when the main highway that runs through it is often blocked by two old timers exchanging lies in the middle of the road, in trucks or 4 wheelers or even on foot. Everyone honks and waves at each other and no matter what you need, someone has it, and will probably drive you to get it. We were here a total of a week when my husband went to the Fruitland store. When he used his debit card the clerk not only knew where we now lived but who we had hired to do our site work. You gotta love it.
You had better know what you say when you open your mouth because you may be dissing someone’s cousin or brother. Most small towns have a history of feuds among the residents and if you have a brain you will stay out and hold on to your opinion or you will end up in one camp or the other, which is good way to make enemies.
But you can also make some wonderful and valuable friends. Where else could you taste someone’s home made goat cheese, or cherry wine or gluten free desserts while you are volunteering at an old museum that is in an old creamery? It’s the same place that you have not one, not two, but three families who live in straw-built houses. Where you get the benefits from large gardens, orchards and vineyards and not have any of the work!
Did I mention that I love it here?