People decide to live in the Ozarks for a lot of different reasons. Steve Shogren, an award-winning photographer from Minnesota, made his decision based on the nearly endless potential of our hills and trails to be transformed into art. Every time I look at one of Steve's photographs--which you can see at Blue Springs, Eureka Thyme, or at other local venues--I know he made the right decision.
My wife Susan wanted to be an antiques dealer (and escape Northern winters!) and found instant friends and welcoming colleagues in similar businesses as she started and grew her own successful antiques and book business. Now retired, Susan begins another adventure, right here, right now, attending a little church just east of the Berryville Town Square, and as a folk painter exhibiting at arts festivals--and on better street corners everywhere!
Local farmer and nationally recognized sustainable agricultural advocate Patrice Gros, and his wife Karen, found Carroll County after an almost exhaustive coast to coast search, before settling down at Foundation Farm just north of us near the Missouri border. Why did the Gros family choose the Ozarks? Find Patrice at the Eureka Springs Farmers' Market every Tuesday and Thursday and ask him to count the reasons; he will be very glad to tell you all the whys.
Other folks come for what are more prosaic reasons. The cost of living is relatively low here, and the access to medical care is good enough to attract mostly moderate income retirees who don't want the expense and bustle of life on our Southern coasts. Sometimes we desire a slower pace of life: less traffic, little crime, weather that can be dramatic but not relentless as are Wisconsin or Michigan winters. And everyone mentions how pretty it is.
Katie Bogner moved here to keep a helpful eye on her retired parents, who live over near Beaver Lake. In 2008, she bought a home in Berryville and settled in with her two daughters. One of her girls just left to take a job as a chef in Las Vegas, Nevada. Youngest daughter Chloe is a middle school student in Berryville.
"My folks were getting older," Katie said. "And I was getting tired of the daily grind in Salt Lake City. I was working as an accountant and CPA and I knew there had to be more to life than just tax returns. The Ozarks seemed like an adventure, plus I could help my Mom and Dad. So here we are."
One of the challenges Katie faced was buying and then renovating an old house in Berryville. As the months rolled by she found herself painting, putting in closets, landscaping, and as the piece de resistance built a multi-level deck off the front of her house. After close observation of her using power tools, a posthole digger, pouring cement, and hefting heavy green treated lumber, the tiresome old busybody who lives across the street (me!) dubbed her "Wonder Woman."
"That got me to thinking," Katie reports. "I was doing a lot of things that men traditionally do like building decks and using power tools, and doing it pretty well. I began to think that I could help other people with what I discovered was a real talent in myself."
In early September, Katie started a new business: 'Wonder Woman: Home Improvement & Life Improvement.'
"Basically, I'm a handy man service," she says. "I'll paint, do yard work, build decks, and just about anything that people need done. I'm also excited about being a Personal Assistant: I can walk dogs, do your grocery shopping, or really just about anything that causes busy people stress and headaches. My aim is to be helpful."
I have to admit that I'm tempted to give Katie a call, or to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Personally, I'm a busy guy and I'm not looking forward to the inevitable conclusion of our fabulous Ozark's autumn: raking leaves!