Country miles are much, much longer than city miles. Or they are if common usage of the expression country mile is to be believed. Kind of like the old "which is heavier - a pound of lead or a pound of feathers" deal. Why are country miles longer? I guess they're longer in the sense that there's just more of them. Everything out in the country is just so far away from everything else. This is multiplied by the fact that the exprience of traversing country miles is an experience characterized by tedium.

The effectiveness of the expression, and the reason for its popularity I think, is in the romanticism in the metaphor: conjuring images of long, featureless stretches of back road, five-house hamlets, insular filling stations, and barn-like churches. The romantic nature of the metaphor works well in songs like "Country Mile" by Camera Obscura ("I won't be seeing you for a long while/And I hope it's not as long as these country miles/I feel lost...") and "Miserable Lie" by The Smiths (which ends with a forceful repetition of the line "I'm just a country mile behind the world" in Morrissey's stunning falsetto).

I am painfully familiar with the length of country miles. Ithaca, New York, which I call home these days, is about a hundred country miles from anywhere else interesting. It is surrounded by a sea of nothing. Nay, it is surround by a sea of fire that will burn your soul. (dear Central New York reader -- of course I wasn't talking about your town). Ithaca itself is great, but its insularity means no spontaneous road trips to some interesting near-by spot. It means you can go to the City once in a while, but it's something that requires planning, and in the mean time, Ithaca is it. Since everywhere I want to go is in Ithaca, it's not too bad, I can get everywhere either on foot or on bicycle. But if the things in Ithaca were spread out across the Ithaca area, I can see how I would very quickly get incredibly sick of these country miles.

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