Nicole Lewis, one of the Arts & Ag coordinators and a transplant to Hickman County, introduces this first part of a series focusing on the many reasons why we choose to live here. Soon, we will be asking many others (including you!) this same question, “Why Hickman County?”
Having lived in New Hampshire most of our adult lives, my husband, Mark, and I decided we were tired of the bitter cold and snow that lasted about six months out of the year. Where we were in the lakes region, there was often still snow in the shadowy areas of the ground in the middle of May. As soon as summer peered its sunny rays it was over in the blink of any eye. It was also often tainted throughout the warm months by the unmerciful black flies and mosquitoes with their unquenchable thirst for blood. Fall is beautiful in New Hampshire but that is also short lived and jumps immediately into the darkness of winter and the clutches of Jack Frost’s strong, icy grip. Yes, we had definitely had enough of this dismal (but beautiful) tundra and were ready for a big change. So, we packed all of our worldly belongings in a U-Haul, loaded ourselves in with two dogs and three cats, and trekked on down to our new home in Centerville, Tennessee where we knew no one, where we had no family, and no jobs. We were on an adventure!
That was just over six years ago. Upon first moving here, (and it still pops up from time to time) we were often asked, “You’re not from here, are you?” and then the usual follow-up question, “Why Hickman County?” Our reasons for moving were pretty simple (as stated above). How we happened upon Centerville was luck, I suppose. Serendipity. We had vacationed in Nashville a couple years prior and loved it. We didn’t think of moving right away but when we found it was time for new surroundings we started searching within an hour’s radius outside of Nashville. We found a small ranch house with a spacious lot, on a quiet little road surrounded by trees and fields in Centerville. My husband remodeled the house to suit our needs and made it beautiful. I acquired a job at a local factory where I really got to know some Hickman County natives and got a great introduction to this community. Involvement with the Arts & Ag Tour has opened my eyes even more to what an amazing place this is! Even though on a first impression Mark and I may be identified as “not from here,” never in my life have I lived in a place where I feel more at home, more happy, and more welcome than I do right here in Hickman County. In no particular order, here are my top 10 reasons why I love living here:
1. A long growing season with warm sunshine and some of the most refreshing rains that make plants and trees grow like a rain forest. There are still four seasons, yet you get a whole lot of the best ones!
2. Learning new words and phrases such as “Bless Your Heart,” “Fixin-to,” “Buggies” (instead of shopping carts), and my all-time favorite, “Might Could.”
3. The gorgeous countryside composed of hills and “hollers,” limestone bluffs, rivers, creeks and waterfalls, lush flora and fauna, and abundant wildlife – there is beauty at every turn.
4. Discovering Southern cuisine. Some of my favorites have become: white beans, pickled okra, Goo Goo clusters, pulled pork sandwiches, sausage biscuits with jam, and fresh farm eggs.
5. Friendly folks who say “hello” and strangers who wave at you on the road. Mark and I used to look at each other with confusion (Yankees are a skeptical bunch and don’t understand this kind of open friendliness). It didn’t take long to get used to this. And, yes, I always wave back.
6. Nighttime in my backyard: watching bats swoop above as fireflies light up the yard below and listening to the owls call to each other in the “holler.” Gazing up at the midnight sky to see so many twinkling stars it seems like you could reach up and grab a handful of them.
7. Wonderful people and great friends. I have met some of the most interesting, friendly, genuine, funny, smart, talented, and caring people here in Tennessee.
8. Sense of Community. Seeing how our community came together after the Flood of 2010 was a real eye-opener for me. Having never experienced a natural disaster, I was utterly impressed to see how everyone came together to help each other. This is not the only example, I see many acts of love, kindness, sharing and generosity here.
9. A more relaxed way of living. Hickman County has taught me to not be so uptight, to relax a little and not be in such a rush, to stay and chat awhile longer.
10. Some may think it funny, but I feel lucky to live in the world-famous Grinder’s Switch area of Hickman County – Minnie Pearl’s stomping grounds as well as the resource of her comedic matter told on the stage and radio. For those who know of her, Minnie Pearl means different things to different people, but I think it’s cool to be connected with her and some of that history here. It’s no joke to me, though, I love living in Hickman County!