Yesteryear has gone away

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

If you needed any proof that the simple times of yesteryear and stereotypical rural life are gone, look no further than last week. Actually, just the end of the week.

A woman missing … a man dead … an accused murderer arrested … all right here in Lunenburg County.

What does it all prove? Well, that news happens, and it’s beyond our control how and when. Of course, it’s not just news to the families and friends of those affected.

In that way, Lunenburg is still the embodiment of small-town America. Everyone knows someone who went to school with, or worked with, or shopped with; or works with or shops with someone who knew or knows … That’s why when something happens to a neighbor, we care.

We have to care because we can’t brush it off with a shrug of indifference and find comfort in the emotional distance of having no real connection to that person.

So, maybe we ask the hardest questions when those connections aren’t there. When no one can say, “I knew,” or “I know,” then it offends our sense of rural life and we have to wonder, why not? Why didn’t I know? Shouldn’t someone?

Because however you define rural — be it the distance between residences or the presence of trailers or knowing you might end up behind a hog or chicken truck, probably on the hottest day of summer when your air conditioner is messing up — there are certain things that we take pride in: neighbors speak, and even if they aren’t friends, they’re friendly.

In fact, even in town, you almost never pass someone without speaking; and every conversation, if allowed to go on long enough, ends with the realization of things or people in common.

Why, even the Durham man arrested in Kenbridge and accused of murder was called a friendly person.

Of course, somebody might take the arrest as a sign that we should fear our neighbors and not open our door to strangers. Probably a little of that is true. Maybe we should be cautious.

But what we have to remember that our lives are filled with way more good than bad and most of the people we meet are just living, like we are.

What we really should remember is that while news may be out of our control, we do get to decide to keep being neighborly and care about one another.

Jamie Ruff is a staff reporter for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. His email is