By Curtis K. Shelburne
I grew up a city boy, though these things are relative. To the poor souls unfortunate enough to grow up in New York, Amarillo would be a lot closer to country than they would ever care to get, but compared to Robert Lee or Stanton, where my two sets of grandparents lived, Amarillo certainly seemed like a city to me.
I was a bright kid. I knew that, at least in theory, milk came from cows. I’d never seen it happen, but I took it on faith. Still, when my grandmother gave me a drink of milk that was a whole lot closer to the cow than the milk I’d grown up drinking from bottles, I didn’t care for it much and told her I preferred “real” milk. I still do. I keep telling my wife that anything that looks white but has less than 2 percent fat in it is NOT real milk, and even the 2 percent stuff is questionable. God made milk to slide down and delightfully coat the throat. Why mess with perfection?
And eggs? They just somehow grew in cartons, didn’t they? Well, that’s what I thought until I went egg-gathering with Grandmother.
And fried chicken? It just showed up on the table at our house in Amarillo. It wasn’t until I spent some time in the “patch” at Granddaddy and Grandmother’s house that I figured out that a headless chicken, running around blindly and evidently unaware that it was dead, was connected with what I ate with biscuits and gravy.
Exceptional young city lad that I was, I was more than a tad naive about the food chain in general and the barnyard link to our table in particular. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was almost as dumb as some so-called environmentalists who’d gag on a good medium-rare steak but still wear leather shoes and seem oblivious to the level of serious commitment on the part of the steer in both cases.
Honestly, there was a time in my life when I didn’t think I’d ever want to live in the country. Then, when I was 28, we moved to Muleshoe, and one day my truly country-born wife said, “Don’t you sometimes wish we lived in the country?” That perplexed me. If Muleshoe wasn’t “the country,” what was it? (Now I know she meant “outside of town.”)
Anyway, you know what I mean when I now say, I grew up in the city but got to the country as fast as I could, and I’m glad. A good friend from Houston once told me that all you have to do is take a fairly short airplane ride to know that “the country” is by far the largest and best part of this land called America. To recognize that “small” is not only okay, it may be better than “big,” was big of him, I thought.
I hope you love where you live — be it big city or small town. Our Father is quite big enough to wrap the whole world, and every one of us, in the arms of his love.