Once again, this former New Englander has encountered lessons by default. Lessons that only several harsh winters, dirt driveways and wild scary animals could deliver to a non native woman that the country adopted can learn. I call these lessons “hazards.” I have been honored to gaze over seemingly endless fields of wheat, corn or tobacco undisturbed for hours while my pets frolic about in those fields. Life in the country is a dream to some.
About six years back, I never conceived country life. I dismissed country life as everything hillbilly-ish. I never desired to pick up a pair of cowboy boots, or muck boots for that matter. I thought little of photos of blue heelers running in tall grasses as uneventful. To me, days or nights that included a drive down to the ocean’s edge were ideal and easily attained.
After spending years picking up chickens to raise from chicks, reading up on what it takes to keep happy chickens, and reading online all the ways I can grow my own foods, I reluctantly may move to a more citified town. The move would mean I may be considered a country woman, but I will be upgrading to a more citified address at the town center. The move is bittersweet for sure.
Photo: Cyndi Watson
See, no one explained to me all the hazards of country life. The chickens, the feed, the cows, the cow feeding via the largest formula bottles I have ever seen, or the thousand-degree farmhouse temperatures in the summer months. Not one person ever could explain to me this- because when I moved to Kentucky, no one knew me, and I did not know anyone, so conversations were limited to passersby. Idle country chit-chat led divulged little of the secrets of rural life.
Like why old farmhouses often come with long dusty driveways on which no one seems to mow that little green patch in the middle of the driveway? Not a soul I ever had a conversation with during my rural living ever explained why no matter how high you raised the thermostat during the winter months, it was still so chilly I needed three layer shirts and heavy booties just to feel halfway warm. All the kind smiles and hello’s in passing never spoke a hint to how alone one can feel way out in the country when the storms plow through the fields, and you may find yourself feeling like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” or even the Witch.
The hazards of country life are found quickly when your European-made car drives down the dusty driveway and falls into an invisible ditch- a ditch that seemed to appear overnight because it wasn’t there yesterday. That same European car encounters a thick piece of fencing that is hidden in the thick grass along the edge of driveway that jumps up and scrapes along the lower side of car. I should have bought a truck. You think I would have realized I needed a truck. Except, I am not a truck kind of woman. Kentucky makes you a truck-loving woman so there is little point in protesting. It just makes sense.
The hazards of country life are its rock-laden bumpy dirt roads, it’s many-years-rusted barbed wire fencing, the weird out-of-nowhere rain storms, and the way the breezy crops creep up into the recesses of your citified mind and nestle in. It is unfair how beautiful the rural life can be. You move into the rural area to experience a new place, a place totally unique to what you have experienced before, only to discover you can adapt, fall in love and be country.
I think that was the biggest hazard of the country life I have experienced so far. How deeply the country life embeds itself within. I know I am only moving a town over, a county over, but it really is a world away from the old graying barn and windy but hot crop fields I to which I have gotten so accustomed. The scary wild animals that crept into my yard and stole away each one of my dozen or more chickens over the past 12 months without even a trace.
This holistic coach gone country isn’t a phase either. I’m feeling I am still Cyndi, the Cyndi of New England. I am just that much more knowledgeable on gardening, old houses and what it really takes to be a real life farmer. Another hazard of the country experience is I know I will never be a real life farmer. I am and will be many things but not an actual farmer. What I will be is a woman who admires the hard work, care and survivalist nature of all the rural farmers I met while I lived in the country.