Characterizing Oysterville… Again!

During these Spring months of sheltering, I’ve been thinking, or rather-rethinking, how I characterize Oysterville.  Not a village — it’s not even close to self-sustaining, even in a limited go-to-the-corner store sense, and we have far too few residents to meet traditional requirements (500-to 2500) as suggested by National Geographic.

A hamlet, then.  Defined as  “a small settlement, with a small population which is usually under 100, in a rural area … typically unincorporated…”  I’ve long advocated the hamlet designation.  But it’s the “rural” part that confounds me a bit.  Not that we are urban or suburban… but it’s our lifestyle these days that doesn’t really fit my mental grasp of “rural.”

My ruminating has been prompted by a book recently suggested to me by my friend Alan Griener who lives in Switzerland — the rural life by Verlyn Klinkenborg.  I think I’m in love — with the book and the author (who is but four years older than my son.)  His writing reminds me of Thoreau and E.B. White and Aldo Leopold, perhaps all rolled into one. .

The book takes the reader, month by month, through the daily life on the author’s small farm in upstate New York where he raises horses and cows and bees and grows hay and fruit trees and vegetables.  You accompany him on his summer trips  through the midwest with its farms and ranches on a completely different scale.  You’ll  attend a small town Fourth of July parade (much like ours in Ocean Park) and maybe you’ll relate to sipping root beer and listening to the radio in an air-conditioned pickup on a hot summer night — certainly not here, but somewhere, long ago.

H.A.Espy Children on Danny, 1924

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll begin to re-think whether we live a “rural” life or if that was a few generations back.  When my mother was a girl and her father was a dairy farmer with some 50 head of cattle and 10 to 15 horses (work horses, a horse for each family member, the horses for Mama’s phaeton, etc.), Oysterville was indeed, rural.  Every family had horses and cows and gardens and, of course, chickens and maybe pigs and goats.  Not like now when many of us have none of the above.  Or maybe only one.  Like chickens.

So, is Oysterville still rural?  Is it “the new rural?”  Or is there another designation entirely?  I hesitate to think what it might be.


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Hamlet (Place)
A hamlet is a small or very small human settlement. 

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