A Doug's Life: Is This Too Good to be True?

They've probably done studies on this, but I firmly believe that one's environment has a lot to do with one's state of mind.

A couple of columns ago, I wrote about the appeal of the relaxed, rural atmosphere here in Menifee. A reader commented on that post, writing that she and her husband have lived here 23 years and that whenever she mentions moving back to "the city," he refuses to listen.

"He loves it here," she wrote. "He says it's his getaway from the craziness of the city."

I feel that way too, and I've been here only about a month. Which makes me wonder: How many of you feel the same?

My guess is, many of you do. At least that's the way it appears to us newcomers. Our whole family has been impressed with just how darn happy and courteous everyone seems to be in these parts.

Oh, I'm sure I'll see the other side of things eventually. You drive the Newport Road bridge between Antelope and Haun in rush hour often enough, you're bound to get the "California salute" from a stressed-out motorist sooner or later, right?

And I'm sure there's that grouchy old rancher out there somewhere, just waiting to give me an earful the first time I wander onto his property while innocently looking for a lost mine.

So far, so good, however. For five weeks, people have pretty much been all smiles. That's great, but it's kinda scary for a guy who, like the previously mentioned reader's husband, is used to the "craziness of the city."

I mean, can this be real? Is there something in the water or what?

I always considered my old neighborhood in the San Gabriel Valley to be fairly peaceful and friendly, but that was measured by a whole different standard. I'm used to a society where you keep your head down when you pass someone on the street. Not that I'm a big fan of that kind of behavior, but it becomes second nature when everyone is doing it.

Here, you can start a friendly conversation with the person behind you in the supermarket checkout line without fear for your safety.

In the "big city," teenagers laugh at us middle-aged folk and try to run us over with skateboards. Here, they smile and hold the door open for you. When the store clerks back home greet each person who comes through the door, you know it's because they have to. Here, it seems like they really mean it.

So what is it? The clean air? The wide-open spaces?

Frankly, I kind of expected to see more animosity between the old-time ranch dwellers and the young families who have moved into the new housing developments in the last few years. Naturally, there are differences of opinion regarding how much land development should continue. Even so, there appears to be a genuine effort to maintain controlled land development that is satisfactory to all.

If the rest of the "newcomers" are like me, they're happy and nice to each other because, for the first time in a while, they have room to breathe. Sure, they live in close quarters, but in new, affordable, roomy houses in neighborhoods where block parties and community pride are the norm.

And in most cases, there's a sprawling ranch, placid lake or pleasant hiking trail within a few minutes' walk.

As for the old-timers? Obviously, I can't speak for them. Perhaps some will write in and let me know. So far, the local business people, city officials and even the cowboys who've been here a while have been more than hospitable to this here city slicker.

For this, I thank you, one and all. Whatever your secret to happiness is, I'd like the recipe. Thanks for the warm welcome, and for being kind to one another. It makes a person want to stay a while.

Sooner or later, I will offend someone with one of these columns, or violate an equestrian right of way, or trespass on someone's south 40 because I can't read a map. When it happens, I'll keep my cool. As a longtime journalist, you come to expect adversity.

I just haven't found it yet.


  1. lol Dad i couldn't have said it better myself

  2. Even the kids that are selling candy outside the super markets are really smiley and friendly. One kid I declined to but candy from, helped me pick up my wallet contents after dropping it. The kids back home woulda just starred at me then laughed! I heart Menifee :-) Jilly

  3. Jennifer FakharizadehNovember 21, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    I have lived here for almost 5 years now and have still not run into any of that "city business" you mentioned. I'm from Texas originally and a part of that state where everyone knows your name, waves when they pass, and where you can strike up a conversation anywhere. When we moved to CA it was to Orange County and you could live on a street and never meet your neighbors, the waitstaff at restaurants acted like we were there for their pleasure and people judged you by your possessions. I've made many friends since moving here and most of them say the same thing. They moved to get away from cities like that. That Menifee is more of a community. This place feels like home to me. I know most of my neighbors. Almost everyone stops to chat or waves as they pass. You can start a conversation anywhere. and you get the nicest greeting even going through the drive-through at Jack-in the-Box. I think we are mostly people that are of like-mind that moved here maybe for the price of real-estate, but we stay because we believe this is the way a community of people should be.

  4. Looking forward to future articles about the "good life"! Menifee isn't rural North Carolina where your early ancestors settled but it can certainly be second best pushing at the top spot.