I've lived in cities and towns, and now I live in the country. I did that too long ago, but though the nearest town was not big, it was a college town, not exactly a backwater. Here the closest town is small and in a way I like, a backwater. There are no chain establishments except a Subway. Otherwise, it's locally owned businesses: grocery stores, feed stores, hardware stores, a couple of places to eat that don't get much clientele because, as my brother-in-law, in whose property I live, says, why should I eat there when I'm two minutes from home?
The closest city is small. Provincial in a way, open to the world in another, for it's on the water and all cities by the sea have an openness about them. There's a beach town a bridge away that's an extension of the city, and it's touristy in a very gaudy way. I seldom go there, for there are lovelier and quieter beaches closer to my home. I stay mostly in Panama City, named for some random reason after the Central American one.
Sometimes I meander through the territory. The Florida Panhandle is unlike what one thinks of about the state. There are beaches, yes; in fact, they are the most beautiful in Florida and often make the list of best beaches in travel magazines. But, unlike South Florida, this is the Deep South, Georgia and Alabama are a short drive away. That division is so strong that some Floridians are considering splitting the state in two. No matter. I like the true Southern flavor, ironically in the north section of Florida, and I mean it literally. I like the way food tastes. It tastes local. It tastes real. It tastes like the soil and the waters here. The terroir.