Chronicles of a Provincial Wife

Chronicles of a Provincial Wife Feature Image

I almost named this blog Chronicles of a Provincial Wife. It’s true. I just kinda liked the sound of provincial wife over country wife. Not to mention the nod to my very favorite Disney princess, Belle, who sang of her provincial life in the movie Beauty and the Beast.

Google defines provincial as “of or concerning a province of a country or empire” and lists several synonyms for the word, including: small-town, rural, country, rustic, backwoods. I feel like provincial is a more sophisticated way to say country. Though I’m not sure why I’m intrigued by a title that sounds more sophisticated, I’m about as plain-Jane as you can get. I mean, I am the Country Wife, folks. Let’s be real.

There was once a young Belle…

 With the recent release of the live motion picture Beauty and the Beast by Disney, my deep affections for the provincial life were stirred up. The original animated version of Beauty and the Beast was released when I was a young girl just trying to figure out where exactly I fit in in this world.

It may seem silly, but I really feel like Belle’s story and character had a profound impact on me at such an influential age. Belle wasn’t like the other Disney Princesses I was used to. For the first time I saw myself in a main character of a heroic story. Those big brown eyes, brunette hair, nerdy exterior with a nose in a book…that was me.

Belle wasn’t waiting around for her Prince Charming to show up and rescue her. She was dreaming of her future, reading and learning, making big plans for herself. She stood up to those who looked down upon her, she didn’t fit any particular mold. She was uniquely and unapologetically herself.

Belle was the heroine of her own story. Sure she ended up with a Prince, but not without saving him first.

She was self-reliant and loyal. She was a free spirit, perhaps a bit odd, and definitely different. She was real. And I could totally relate.

I was a young glasses-wearing brunette, always with a book in hand, that loved school. Like always. Even through college. I loved learning. I still love to learn. I grew up in a rural town…the provincial life to the core. I was pretty different from most other kids, kinda always marched to my own drum. The true message of Beauty and the Beast, for me, was that it was ok to be different. And it gave me the confidence to remain true to myself.

Image of Purple Flowers

The song Belle, from the opening of Beauty and the Beast, describes the village Belle lived in. The first line was literally the town I grew up in.

“Little town, it’s a quiet village

Every day like the one before” (lines 1-2)

It was a safe harbor. It was home.

Quiet, quaint. I loved it. Even, today, as an adult, I cherish quiet and solitude.

The song goes on to describe Belle a bit,

“Look there she goes, that girl is strange, no question

……………………………………..…

Never part of any crowd” (lines 22,24)

 

“Look there she goes, the girl is so peculiar

………………………………..…

With a dreamy, far-off look

And her nose stuck in a book

What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle” (lines 41, 43-45)

 

“I’m afraid she’s rather odd

Very diff’rent from the rest of us

She’s nothing like the rest of us” (Lines 53-56)

Yup, like looking a mirror. But the message was clear. All the town folk were singing of Belle’s differences, while she was caught up in the joy of her book. She didn’t care. She was who she was. For me as a young girl…this was pivotal. The message was: It’s ok to be different. You don’t need to be understood. Just be you.

Powerful.

Belle sang of the provincial life as something she wanted to escape in Belle (Reprise):

“I want much more than this provincial life

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere

I want it more than I can tell

And for once it might be grand

To have someone understand

I want so much more than they’ve got planned” (lines 10-15)

Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast (Walt Disney Pictures)

Much like Belle, I was independent and always felt like I had something bigger to accomplish with my life than what I could find in my small hometown. As much as I loved it, I knew I needed to spread my wings and fly after graduating high school. I wanted to get out, to explore, to live and experience new things. I wanted to make something of myself, to chase my dreams. To learn. To grow. To love.

But unlike Belle, I never resented my upbringing in a small town, I cherished it and really, truly loved every minute of it. I never felt like it didn’t fit who I was.

I was just young and dream-driven. I had big plans and I wasn’t going to stay in my small hometown to achieve them. I had to get out. To explore things for myself. Make mistakes and learn from them. Meet new people, experience different lifestyles and culture. And I thought the answer was in another state or in the city or really anywhere but a quaint, quiet small country town. 

Chronicles of a Provincial Wife {Country Wife Chronicles}

Fast forward to today…I’m a thirty-something, self-proclaimed country wife. Ain’t no city in this girl.

Wait, what? So did I put a damper on my dreams? Did I achieve all that I set out to as that young girl had once hoped? All that I was searching for wasn’t to be found in the provincial life…or was it?

I went from being that young girl, bright-eyed and adventurous, full of confidence and self-assurance to a woman who has embraced the slowing down and stillness of a country life. But in that journey, my self-love and self-assurance has blossomed. My confidence grown in the changes and successes and failures along the way.

I’m not sure about you, but somewhere along this journey of womanhood I lost sight of who I was at the core. I was seeking other things and trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was doubtful and lost a little bit of myself somewhere. My twenties were filled with learning and growth, none of which I would change or take back, I just feel like I lost sight of who I was for a moment. Perhaps I let fear creep in, or societal expectations take hold. Whatever it was, however it happened, I had to find a way back to myself.

For me, that journey began when Wildland Man and I moved to the country after getting married, it was like coming home and finding my true self all over again. I reconnected with that provincial side of myself, that part of me that was so hugely influential in my upbringing.

Yes, I wanted to experience things, see different places, get out of small town rural America. But in so doing, I also came to truly appreciate the provincial life for who it made me from the inside out. I don’t feel like I gave up on any dreams or chose the wrong path and I certainly can attest to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this country life without having traveled the path that led me back home.

Getting to relive one of my favorite childhood movies with the re-release of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast reminded me of my dreams as a young girl. And it allowed me to ponder the path life has taken me on since then.

I’m still that spunky, odd, bookworm of a Belle. I speak my mind (just ask Wildland Man) and I go after what I want.

But I’m also content right where I am at. I don’t feel trapped or left out. I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. The provincial wife is who I am—the country wife.

Image of Barn

Belle, the Provincial Wife?

So, theoretically Belle is only a few years older than me—perhaps she is in her 40’s now. Is she still living in the castle happily ever after with her beast-turned-handsome-prince in the French countryside? Could it be that the young woman who just knew there was more to life than her provincial town, is actually living out her happily ever after as a provincial wife?

I’d like to think so.

I mean, her story didn’t lack in adventure. Her love story with the Beast was mystical, dangerous, and enchanting. She lives in a castle filled with books galore, her imagination certainly can’t be lacking.

But is she hungry for more? Does she feel trapped by her provincial life?

My opinion? I think not. I’d like to think she is perfectly content right where she is at, in her provincial life. She got her adventure, she made choices for herself, and she married her best friend, someone who loved and appreciated her just as she was. She has a library where she can continue to grow and learn, she has the entire French countryside to explore and plenty of things to keep her busy as a modern homemaker of a castle, right?

I don’t think changing your course in life is the same as settling. I think as we get older and wiser, we just choose different paths along the way. Some of us keep moving forward into the unknown. Others find themselves returning home. There is no right or wrong, settling or giving up…as long as you are true to who you are at the core.

When I picture that little girl in the crook of a tree reading her favorite book I see Belle reading in her provincial town.

When I picture Belle in her happily ever after, I see a provincial wife. Content in her countryside home, just soaking in the bliss of a simple and quiet provincial life.

I see the Country Wife.

Have you had the chance to take stock of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come lately? Even if you haven’t achieved all you set out to, at least take a second to give yourself some credit for where you are today. You may not be where you want or thought you would be, but you certainly aren’t still where you used to be.

Join in on the conversation by commenting below:

  • What were your dreams as a young child?

  • Did Beauty and the Beast resonate with you as a young girl?

  • I believe we are never too old for dreams. What are your dreams today?

  • Have you found contentment in country living? Are you a fellow provincial wife? I’d love to hear more about your love for this lifestyle in the comments below!

Be Still & Know…

the Country Wife signature for the Country Wife Chronicles blog

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