The Sweet Scent of Slow


I roll the windows all the way down so my hair whips my cheeks and the Starbucks receipt flies off the dashboard. Patsy Cline croons as the mini-van soars over empty roads. I'm headed to Norfolk for an evening work event, two and half hours up to Northeast Nebraska, two and half hours back.
You know, you can cross the entire state of Massachusetts in two and half hours. In Nebraska you barely make a dent in that time. That used to bug me – that I couldn’t get anywhere fast in Nebraska. Sometimes it still does. But now mostly I’m just glad.
It’s not entirely a stereotype, that life moves more slowly in the Midwest. When I visit my family in Massachusetts I notice it right away as we cruise up I-91 from the airport to my parents’ house. The pace is nothing short of frenetic. Traffic snarls the roads. Drivers weave in and out of lanes, tailgating, swearing, leaning on the horn. Even my mother tailgates for crying out loud. “Jeez, Mom, you’re right on her bumper!” I gasp as we follow my best friend out of the neighborhood. When did we start tailgating even people we know, I wonder.
I didn’t always appreciate slowness, on the road or otherwise. When I first moved to Nebraska I earned a cache of speeding tickets. In fact, I once got pulled over for speeding twice in two weeks. By the same cop. [try explaining that one to your husband...or to the cop -- thankfully he didn't recognize me!]
But more recently, the sweetness of slow has grown on me. I don’t rush like I used to. I don’t pack my day with a half dozen activities. I don’t try to squeeze in just one more errand. If I arrive at my destination early, I turn off the car and sit. If the weather is warm I sit with the windows open and listen to the breeze stirring golden leaves. I close my eyes and breathe in the earthy scent of autumn, oak leaves disintegrating into dust by the curb.
What about you? What's one small way you work a little bit of slow into your hectic life?

Andie  – (November 25, 2011 at 5:44 AM)  

What a blessing Michelle!  I'm afraid that I still live in the frantic Northeast!  I was speaking about this with a friend and he suggested just trying to walk slower - maybe that is how we should start - baby steps.  Or, maybe I should move to Nebraska :)

Southern Gal  – (November 25, 2011 at 6:35 AM)  

What a great post for this day!  I try to take time to just enjoy the day.  I'm grateful we live in a small town - we're only a short distance from the big city, though.  If I want to give my "slow down" a little boost, I go there and come back relishing the slowness of our little town.

Mary Bonner  – (November 25, 2011 at 7:23 AM)  

That was one of things I noticed when I moved from the midwest to the northeast...everything moves so fast.  Yesterday we had midwest guests for Thanksgiving and one of the things I mentioned about living here is that no one seems to know how to slow down.  I work hard at not forgetting how to do that...sitting with a book, enjoying a day with nothing to do, taking walks and just being quiet.
Thank you, Michelle, for a beautifully written piece that reminded me of the importance of slowing down.  Glad you have embraced the slowness - even if you are not "entirely a stereotype!" :-)

kendal  – (November 25, 2011 at 7:26 AM)  

well, i live in the south. and always have, save 13 months in wyoming. we. are. slow. but i find myself rushing, especially at work. i slow myself by sitting and doing nothing for at least a few minutes every day. even though we are slow here, i have had 4 speeding tickets!

Debbie Grace –   – (November 25, 2011 at 8:06 AM)  

Thank you for this gentle and timely reminder...

Toni –   – (November 25, 2011 at 8:56 AM)  

I have a 40 minute drive to work every day. I leave early in the morning, when there is hardly any traffic on the roads. In the summer, I roll down the windows and open the sunroof to let the warm mountain air wash over me. I turn up Jason Aldean on the radio and just drive. In the cold months, the heat warms me from the dashboard, I sip coffee from my big Dunkin' Donuts cup, and Eric Church sings me to work. These drives are my time to take life in...and slow my roll :)
I loved your post and the picture makes me wish I was there (with Jason & Eric of course!).

Ostriches –   – (November 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM)  

oooh this is my goal. I really want to be slow! 

I read an article about Nebraska in the Smithsonian (which is a mag I usually can't STAND but anyway), and it reminded me of you. She was talking about moving there from NY City. I would summarize but I am having a serious brain fart right now. ACk!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:07 PM)  

I read that article -- it was by Megan Daum (have you read anything by her? I like her). She moved here from NYC and lived in Lincoln for several years. Now she lives in LA. There's a lot to be said about Nebraska - I never thought I'd say that in a million years, but I do love it here.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:09 PM)  

I've got to check out Jason Aldean and Eric Church - never heard of either of them (but that doesn't mean much...I am a complete music moron!). Hey, I miss Dunkin Donuts - they don't have them here in Lincoln - in fact, I don't think I've seen a Dunkin Donuts anywhere in Nebraska. They make good coffee!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:09 PM)  

And thanks for stopping by Debbie...happy weekend to you!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM)  

I'll never forget walking with an acquaintance from Tanzania -- I was at least 3 steps ahead of him the entire time. I could not walk slow enough -- he even mentioned it at one point (it was probably pretty obvious, since he was staring at my back the whole time we walked together). I was embarrassed. But in my defense, he moved sloooooowly.

You can come visit my in Nebraska anytime -- I'm still a fast walker...but we do a few things more slowly around here!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM)  

That's the perfect mix, Renee -- small-town slowness with the option to pick up the pace for a bit with a trip to the city.

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM)  

Thanks, Mary -- hope you're enjoying a nice slow day after Thanksgiving (not me -- I just raked my entire yard, and now I feel like I'm going to keel over!).

Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

Michelle DeRusha  – (November 25, 2011 at 1:15 PM)  

Oh I totally rush like a complete maniac at work, there's no denying that.

Studying God in the Yard by L.L. Barkat this summer helped me get into the habit of carving out a few minutes of quiet each day. I usually like to do that outdoors, but now that the weather is turning, I usually try to stare out the window for a few minutes.

Joanne Norton –   – (November 25, 2011 at 4:17 PM)  

Pretty much what you described.  Sometimes I just need to hop into the car and drive to Blair and follow on up north of that town.  In fact, one reason the two of us haven't been together is that driving on I-state to Lincoln isn't my favorite direction when I just want to breathe and enjoy looking around a bit.  [As much as I absolutely LOVE being in the NW around the mountains and bays and ocean, the rush hours and road raging and tailgating is just not something I enjoy... so I put up with Nebraska with less stress.]

thefisherlady –   – (November 26, 2011 at 2:37 PM)  

your 'more recently' part of your  post could be entirely me! you had me smiling... I am also learning to slow down and enjoy!

Bradley J Moore –   – (November 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM)  

Hey, where in Massachussets? I lived their for 18 years before moving to the Philly area. We still get there a few times a year (helps that my daughter is at BU!). Wow, what a change from Mass to Nebraska. I can see the slowing down from way over here! :)  

Barbara –   – (January 14, 2012 at 6:21 AM)  

One of the only ways I work a little bit of slow into my hectic life is to read your blog!

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