Live Oak —
Sometimes when I speak with friends from larger cities, they seem surprised that my wife and I are so crazy about living in rural Suwannee County. After all, we came here nearly seven-years-ago from a south Florida community where seemingly every day, a new business was having a grand opening. (Of course, since the Great Recession, many of those same businesses have had a less than grand closing.)
At any rate, my out-of-town buds appear stunned when I tell them that going to a movie theater constitutes at least a 60-mile round trip, there aren’t any high-end restaurant chains in town, shopping options are limited and there are no gated, 18-hole golf course communities anywhere in sight.
Then there was the rolling of the eyes that would come when, until recently, I would explain that the county was “dry.”
To them, the rural beauty of this area simply isn’t enough…and very honestly I’m not sure it would be for me either…except for one reason; the many fine folks Lynda and I have had the pleasure to encounter since moving here. Let me give you a quick example of what I mean.
A week ago this past Monday, I was driving my daughter to Suwannee Middle School where she was working for the day as a substitute teacher. The goal was to drop her off at work, at which point I’d then deliver her Suburban to the local Chevy dealership, so as to have an intermittent electrical problem diagnosed and repaired.
Well, you guessed it. As scores of harried parents were rushing to drop off their kids at the school so as to get to work on time, Sarah’s car elected to die in the middle of the parking lot!
As I got out of the disabled SUV, I had visions of honking horns, dirty looks and perhaps even an angry hand gesture or two. You see, I forgot for a moment that I am now a resident of Live Oak.
I hadn’t been out of Sarah’s car for more than a couple of seconds, when the father of two girls, drove up beside me, exited his sedan and offered assistance. Thanks to his jumper cables, the SUV was soon running again and he was on his way.
Unfortunately, the relief I felt was short-lived! I hadn’t driven more than a few hundred feet, before the car finally gave up the ghost…for good. When the initial stall-out occurred, I was only partially blocking traffic. Now however, I was smack dab in the middle of the school’s two-lane driveway…meaning every parent dropping-off a kid was blocked by my daughter’s hulking SUV.
Again, I exited the car anticipating the worst. It wasn’t to be. As I attempted to direct traffic, so as to minimize any delays, at least a half dozen of these fellow drivers pulled up beside me, rolled down their window and asked if there was anything they could do to help.
Suwannee County is far from perfect. Admittedly we lack many of the amenities found in larger cities.
On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of good neighbors. And to me, that’s worth far more than a movie theater down the street or a neighborhood mall with a Macy’s.
Jim lives in Live Oak.