How to Tell You’re in The Middle of Nowhere in the Midwest

Let me preface this post by saying that I don’t have a problem with “the middle of nowhere.” In fact, I’m pretty much from the middle of nowhere and spent many of formative years frolicking through woods and streams unencumbered by neighbors or pesky traffic. That being said, “the middle of nowhere,” otherwise known as the “back woods,” or “east cambum f*ck” (it’s a family thing, so I’m not sure about spelling) largely defines itself by what part of the country it is located in.

I am very familiar with the New England version of the middle of nowhere, which is comprised of small houses/trailers on ridiculously large plots of land that may or may not have about 150 odd lawn ornaments decorating the front yard. These lawn ornaments range from sheep to flamingos to watering cans to (my personal favorite) the ever classy “bent over woman/man.” See picture below:
The other main defining trait of New England’s back woods is the presence of “tag sales.” What is a tag sale? Just another name for yard sale but it seems like in New England everyday is a good day for a tag sale. Of course, it is hard to decipher what is or is not for sale among all the lawn ornaments…

I’m also familiar with middle of the nowhere Texas which is marked by wide expanses of sky and concrete. The only thing that breaks up the monotony are the occasional cattle ranch or rest stop complete with steer horns. See below:

I’ve also experienced the middle of nowhere in Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. They all have their natural charms, but it seems to me that the Midwest (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana) has it’s own brand of “special.” What caused this meditation on rural America? Well, I’m in the middle of nowhere Indiana as we speak and today while driving, I started making a mental list:

1. Lots and lots and lots of churches. Methodist and Baptist mostly but when I say there was one about every 10 miles, I’m not exaggerating.

2. IGA. For those of you not familiar with the acronym, IGA stands for International Grocers Alliance and they are all but gone from the American landscape. In fact, the only other place I’ve ever seen one is in the tiny town my grandparents live in in New Hampshire.

3. Palm Readers next to law offices, dentists, tire places, etc. Yeah, I don’t know either.

4. Lots of billboards warning against a) the apocalypse b) having an abortion.

5. Random “artist studios” advertising pottery, metal sculpture or wood carving.

6. Beautiful cattle and horse farms.

7. Strip malls galore.

8. Quaint names for rivers like “Squash Blossom.”

9. Lots of chain restaurants.

10. Golf courses that pop up in the middle of places that don’t make sense. For example, you’re driving along and you pass a church, a billboard, a church, a pottery studio, a church, a horse farm, a church, and then…a golf course. Weird.

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2 thoughts on “How to Tell You’re in The Middle of Nowhere in the Midwest

  1. Briana, I have been trying to send you a personal message but the system won't let me. Sorry to send a message this way. Thanks for joining my blog. It was great to meet you at AWP!

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