Just a Small-Town Boy

| May / June 2005

A writer gives up the rat race and finds peace in the country

When contributing editor Joseph Hart announced that he was moving to a little town called Viroqua, we were not only sad to see him go but also worried that he would regret the decision. He was leaving behind his home and a blossoming career, after all, and it was easy to believe that his urge to slow down might be replaced by a desperate need for stimulation. Save for a few folks, such as assistant editor Laine Bergeson, most of us find that our uneasiness has been replaced with a touch of envy. As you'll read in the following essays, Joe is thriving, personally and professionally, and is part of a growing movement dubbed the rural rebound. And Laine. . . . well, let's just say she remains a tad skeptical. -- The Editors

As a teenager in the Minnesota backwoods, I couldn't wait to move to the city. A gawky, bookish, sometimes snob, I probably would have had a difficult adolescence wherever I lived. But it didn't help my social standing to be one of the only kids in high school whose dad had a Ph.D. Or that my back-to-the-land family lived in a couple of cabins without toilet, telephone, or television. At school, I ran a gauntlet of hostility every day, and I blamed all my problems on the narrow-mindedness of small-town life.