A real version of Country Living magazine


Just got in from Nashville (where it was an unseasonable 25 degrees without their “windchill”) and arrived to blowing snow and no travel advised. There’s a reason only the strong survive up here (and a reason we all head south about now) but even the strong are getting cranky about it…

 A real version of Country Living magazine
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The snow was blowing big flakes sideways across the prairie and the weatherman warned of minus 30 wind chills and it was just another February morning in western North Dakota.

I loaded up the kids and the car: coats, hats, mittens, blankies, sippy cups, snow pants, snacks for the trip to town, more snacks for the trip back home, lunch bag, computer bag, checked my pocket for my phone and we were on our way… Backed out of the garage, up the driveway, around the little corner and, with a sip of coffee, noticed that with the fresh snow, it was nearly impossible to distinguish where, exactly, our little road was.

Leaned forward, squinted my eyes, misjudged the curve entirely and sunk that car full of snacks and snowpants up to the floorboards in the ditch. Before I even reached our mailbox.


So I want to talk about country living for a minute. Are there glamorous parts about it? Sure. When the sun is setting on a 70 degree summer day and you’re on the back porch listening to the crickets singing and watching the lightning bugs flicker in creek beds. These are the things Martha Stewart, Country Living magazine and that adorable home-renovating Gaines couple sell you about the whole rural experience.

That and the solitude, fresh air and the fact that they’ve never walked outside to find their pet goats standing on the roof of their car, but I digress.

But I’m guessing neither Martha, Joanna or the editors at Country Living have ever lived where that fresh air hurts your face, winter lasts 37 months and every outfit must coordinate with snow boots and a beanie. No. They live in a world where the dirt, mud, melty snow and apple juice magically stays off of their photo-ready vintage farmhouses decorated with fragile antiques and (*gasp) white rugs.

In these magazines and home renovation shows I’ve learned plenty on how to make a cozy breakfast nook (I’ll never have a breakfast nook) and what flowers to put in my foyer (I will never have a foyer). Curiously, I’ve never come across any tips on what to do when you drive your car in the ditch in your own yard 30 miles from civilization. Sigh.

ARCHIVE: Read more of Jessie Veeder’s Coming Home columns

Luckily I’ve found myself in this predicament enough times that I’ve developed my own list. The first step being, of course, slamming my hands on the steering wheel in exasperation.

The second is new to me, but involves answering all 50 million of my 3-year-old’s questions about why we’re not moving, which is my favorite step.

The third? Pray that my dad’s home so I don’t have to suffer the humiliation of explaining this situation to neighbor Kelly or risk death by frostbite while hoofing it down to the house for a shovel. Good thing I always pack snacks.

Anyways, I guess what I’m saying, Martha, is some of you have never been pulled out of the ditch by your dad’s old feed pickup in a wind chill blizzard warning and it shows.

If you need me, I’ll be conceptualizing my own magazine idea that will offer fewer tips on decorating that space above your cabinets and more information on the flooring that best blends with scoria mud, how to find a body shop that will removed goat hoof dents and a list of excuses you can use on your neighbor should you find your car stuck in a snowbank. In your own yard.

I think it’s going to be a hit.


11 thoughts on “A real version of Country Living magazine

  1. OH I KNEW IT! And I knew (well, I was reading the column you wrote after it was ‘over’!)you’d get out safe AND get your babies, the snacks and all the paraphernalia out too. I can NOT imagine living in North Dakota. Can’t wait to read the magazine, I will love EVERY WORD!

  2. It used to be primarily North Dakota but as of 2019 It is the lions share of the entire United States for this nonsense we call winter. Count your blessings with regard to past experience!!!

  3. You say it straight sister. Same day my 67 year old husband got stuck in our d riveway, which he considered a personal insult. One hour later neighbor kid shows up asking for chains, lady slid off road in our rural subdivision. It’s not all pottery and quilts☃️

  4. Thank goodness for Dads who stay home in bad weather, old trucks and the luck of having no one around to witness our finer moments. I’ve been wearing ice cleats over my muck boots for about 12 weeks. Yup, I’m over winter too.

    P.S. Now you know why we got rid of the goats. 😉

  5. Love your column as it brought back memories of 30 years of living in ND. Moved to Eastern WA where we still get snow and four seasons but winter doesn’t last forever! Keep on keepin’ on!

  6. Oh I feel your pain. It just won’t break above 10 degrees here and the snow. OH, the snow. I came to my husbands rescue the other day when he buried his plow truck….in the neighbors front yard. Spring has to come eventually…right?

  7. Jessie, Everyone loves you. You have resourcefulness and GUTS. There, I said it. Who would I like to spend a week with? YOU, not Martha. I have lived all over the country, ND in-cluded. Best people anywhere.

    There used to be a wonderful bumper sticker: 40 Below keeps the riff raff out. Absolutely!

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