I have learned a lot from living in the country. I bought two acres in a very small town. I have always loved the country but was raised in the city. When I bought the property, I had to settle in by myself. I had one neighbor, I met him on a day that was sunny and clear. I was feeling very “springy” and anxious to get to work on my new gigantic yard. I had an old push mower that was so loud you could feel your dental work vibrate when it was at full speed. I was mowing my back yard, singing the them song from “Green Acres” at the top of my lungs. I figured between my location and the old mower, no one would hear me.
While mowing, I hit a stump in the ground and stalled the mower. I continued to screech out my tune. I heard rustling in the grass and looked up, there stood my neighbor. He looked like a older, skinnier version of my Grandfather. He quickly informed me that he had come out to see what all the noise was about. I had the feeling right then and there that he was going to be the “Mr. Wilson”, to my “Dennis the Menace”. He also told me he was used to the old couple that I bought the place from.
The very quite old couple, one was in a wheelchair and the other hooked up to oxygen. So I was guessing they didn’t have many “raise the roof” noisy things going on. I automatically re-thought the firecrackers I had planned on throwing into the bonfire I had planned for that night. As a result of my encounter with my neighbor, I learned that just because you’re out in the boonies, you cannot make as much noise as you want.
My property is surrounded by cow field, with the exception of my neighbor’s small lot off to my side. It was my third week in my new place when I woke up to at least ten cows in my yard. My first reaction was of excitement, so I immediately woke my kids up to share our new visitors. We gathered on the back porch marveling at the new, wonderous site.
Later that day, when the cows had dispersed, I went out to mow. I found out quickly that a yard like mine turned my weekends into an endless cycle of mowing, raking and trimming. I had this privilege because my children were not yet old enough to help me. I roared my old faithful into life and started out. I had only mowed a few yards when I spotted a fresh “cow pie” left by one of that mornings visitors.
I hesitated for a moment, trying to think of what to do with it. I decided that if I mow over it, it will be dispersed over the yard by the mower blades. So I proceeded over the cow pie. I was on top of it with the mower when a large piece of it flew out the back of the mower and hit me right on the shin. It was a mixture of pain and disgust that made me let go of the mower. The mower immediately shut off, so I ran to the water hose and rinsed my leg off.
When I returned to the mower, it wouldn’t start. I tried pulling the cord and messing with the choke, but nothing. I flipped the mower over and found the entire blade and under workings jammed. The cow pie had rendered my mower useless. I tried hosing it off and scraping at it with a stick, but the cow pie was like adhesive. Luckily my dear, old neighbor took pity on me and waddled across my yard to look at the mower for me.
He instructed me that the mower needed to be taken apart and cleaned, then re-assembled. He then trundled back across to his yard, where he sat in his lawn chair, on his perfectly manicured, inch high grass. I was secretly hoping that he would offer to do this un-pleasant task for me, but I found quickly that chivalry is indeed dead. At least when it comes to pressure washing cow poo off your mower.
Like I said before, the property I purchased was in a small town. The kind of town that has one red light and gossip gets around faster than local transit. Being the “new comer” in town, I received the same round of questions from the locals everywhere I went. “Where you from?”, “Who’re you related to?”, “Who are/were you married to?” and so on .
Being divorced with two children, I felt like I could not answer these questions properly without completely giving my interrogator a full rundown of my personal life from the past two years. But I quickly found out by the blank stare looking back at me that I needed to condense my answer into something a little more “user friendly”. I toyed around with answers like “I was hatched and recently dropped out of the sky with no prior personal attachments”.
But I realized that when you live in a small community, friends and family are very important. In the old days they were essential to your very survival. So I began to understand the need to get to know me was more than mere curiosity. I saw it as the beginning of acceptance into the community.
I can honestly say after living in my town for thirtheen years, I have not completely blended in. And I don’t really have the desire to, every town needs an odd ball, and I’ve settled in to that role quite comfortably.