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Paul Turner: Yearning for peace and solitude

I suppose the issue is not unique to Spokane.

But you know how some people hereabouts flee perceived social ills by moving way out to the country? Sure. Well, what if they relocate to the boonies only to discover that some of the exact same characters they are trying to get away from are already out there?

You know, problem personalities. Though admittedly, in smaller numbers.

Still, wouldn’t that be worse than dealing with aberrant individuals in the city, where their alleged oddity is diluted by the presence of so many others of all sorts?

OK, I’ll grant you, it would be different. People are a lot more spread out once you get away from town. If you want to mostly avoid your neighbors, you probably can.

I mean, “avoid” as in almost never even see them.

Now let’s be clear. Not everyone opting to take up residence in a sparsely populated area is antisocial or obsessed with apocalyptic politics. Some people just prefer zero traffic and not hearing the neighbor’s dogs. Can’t blame them. Yearning for peace and solitude doesn’t make you a suspicious character, after all.

But for those who pull up stakes and relocate to the country, it seems like a fair question: What if you get out there and then discover that at least a few of the other people you encounter are somewhere on the crackpot spectrum?

As I said, if you want to steer clear of them you probably can. One thing about self-imposed exile. It gives you choices.

And I guess one of them would be to move back to town.

First impressions

“I first came to Spokane on the train with my twin sister in 1959 because we were going to attend Whitworth College,” wrote Mary Ann Barney. “My father was a Presbyterian minister and got half tuition for his children which, as he put it, was getting us in two-for-the-price-of-one.”

The sisters were picked up at the train station by two Whitworth students who then drove them north to the woodsy campus.

“We loved the Ponderosa pines, our classes, the friendly students and even the food.”

Mary Ann would eventually meet and marry a Whitworth guy.

Kay Dixon remembers coming to Spokane in November of 2007, to visit her daughter’s family and scout the city as a possible retirement destination. Her daughter’s family had moved here from California earlier that year.

“In the downtown area, the snow was piled 5 feet high in the center of the streets. In all our living in snowy Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, we had never seen snow plowed that way.”

For something to do, Kay’s daughter encouraged them to attend a special open house event featuring look-see tours of the newly renovated Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

“We pulled on our snow boots and zipped up our parkas. We tramped through slushy streets and snow banks.”

Her reaction? “Wow! What a wonderful experience. The Fox was alive. It was jam-packed with Spokanites wandering throughout the building. There were multiple musical groups playing at the assorted landings, etc. The scene convinced us that we indeed could relocate and enjoy life in Spokane (even with its snowy winters).”

Mature humor

A small group of us were having breakfast at a restaurant in Cheney when we heard the sharp smack of something hard hitting the floor right behind me.

I turned and saw that an older woman’s metal cane had fallen. When I picked it up and handed it to her, she said, “I wasn’t throwing it at you.”

I smiled and told her it had not occurred to me that she might have been.

But a man seated at her table made a face, shook his head and suggested I shouldn’t believe a word she said.

A Spokane trade-off

Many of us revel in the fact this area has fewer flying insects at this time of year than would be found in wetter parts of the country. Well, it would be nice to have fireflies.

But when it comes to mosquitoes, gnats and their pesky brethren, most of us hereabouts are content to have modest populations and not dense clouds of winged insects.

Still, if you ask those who grew up in one of America’s broad Bug Belts, they might tell you there is a trade-off. More flying insects almost always mean more birds, especially songbirds.

And for those who spent years in the Midwest or South hearing feathered friends chirp outside their screened windows as they awoke in the morning, our relatively light bug population comes with a downside.

OK, many of us are happy to accept the consequences of fewer bugs. And it’s certainly not as if we don’t have any birds here. We do, of course. Quite a few of them aren’t shy about speaking right up.

But for at least some transplanted residents here, those who remember when the outdoors back in Georgia or Minnesota sometimes sounded like an old “Tarzan” movie soundtrack, the relative early morning quiet can be haunted with melodious memories.

Just wondering

When did you first realize huckleberries were a real thing?

Here are five choices.

When watching “Huckleberry Hound” cartoons.

When listening to the song “Moon River” and hearing that reference to “my huckleberry friend.”

When some bear told you.

The first time you tried to get a purple berry stain out of a white garment.

Have always known … you first had huckleberries before you could talk.

End note

When Deborah Chan sees my new email address, she imagines it says “Sir Paul Turner.”

Ha. You commoners really crack me up.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at