What's nice about life in the woods? City people might be surprised

Marilyn Heltzer
Marilyn Heltzer is a writer and blogger in greater Bemidji.
Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Heltzer

My sister, also a retired person, lives in a swell condominium in Eden Prairie. She and her husband are eager to be off to the south for a couple of months in a Texas condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. But they have to wait until they solve their furnace problem, and three service calls later, it still isn't working right. She's complained to me on our daily e-mail exchange. But she's reluctant to complain to the furnace repair company, and is just happy when somebody shows up.

I live in the woods in rural Beltrami County. Of course I am sympathetic, even though a couple of months in the sun are not in my future. But I do have this wicked streak, so I couldn't resist telling her that since we moved up north now nearly 20 years ago, I've developed a nice relationship with the folks who do repairs.

Unkindly, I told her that it'd be nice if I could send Tom her way. He works for a heating and air conditioning outfit. There are a number of guys who drive around town in those red and yellow trucks, and somebody else could probably come to help. But when I have the furnace and gas fireplace checked every fall, or when any other appliance problem pops up, I call the company and talk to Faye. I tell her to send Tom out. And she does.

Faye and I set the approximate time for Tom's visit. And he shows up within 15 or 20 minutes of the appointed time. But if he gets held up on another repair, he calls me on his cell and we work it out. That never happened when we lived in the city.

Then there is the plumber who came out to fix the bathtub faucet. I stopped in at the shop on the way home from town one day, and told them what the problem was. We agreed on the time when I'd be home, and he sent Dan out to do the job. Dan had been here a couple of times before -- toilet problems, he remembered. He fixed the shower in a jiffy.

It's been a winter of these little jobs. And my husband, the smartest man I know, does not (to the great relief of workmen all over town) tackle any home repairs. When I needed an electrician to install a couple of light fixtures, I called Russ and he sent his son Bob, who is also a registered electrician, and it just took him a few minutes to install the fixtures I'd bought at Home Depot. Russ and Bob are part of the clan that includes Lester, the guy I buy honey and squash from. It's like that here.

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Just a few days ago, we were having company for that bright man's birthday dinner, but snow had fallen and drifted. I was worried that the township wouldn't get the road cleared so our company could get to the house. I called Ed, who is on the town board, but works nights, so he was at home. He said he'd seen the plow over his way, and he was pretty sure it'd get here before too long. And it did.

There's Shane, who plows the driveway, and Bob who mows in the summertime, and Frank and Barb who run the sprinkler system company. Frank comes out to do the work. Barb answers the phone.

Yes, I miss the city. The concerts. The museums. Ethnic restaurants. Movies that don't have 12-year-old boys as their target audience. Our political pals and people who knew our kids in high school. The Twin Cities are great. But when it comes to getting something fixed, I'll take my Up North town any day.

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Marilyn Heltzer is a writer and blogger in rural Beltrami County.