3. Turtles

When you live in the city five acres seems like a lot of land. I can testify, I own more land than any other friend I have in the city. However, seeing as how I have met people out here that own a thousand acres… my five acres screams, “city slicker”. Land out here is willed from generation to generation. I find it amazing that they would have a fortune if they could sell the land. Yet they can only afford to put a double wide on it (and possibly several car’s worth of parts). It reminds me of the people in the city who buy the enormous houses but then have empty rooms because they can’t afford to furnish them.

When we originally came to see this house I marveled at the wildlife (dead coyote in front of the house) and the diversity of the insects. I remember distinctly walking around and staring at the brightly colored, extra large moths and the swarms of dragonflies. I took a deep breath of the air that seemed cleaner, based solely on the presence of such beauty, and walked through a spider web. This, of course, as it would most city girls, sent me running rubbing my hands through my hair in an attempt to dislodge any arachnids that might decide to suddenly take up residence. The thought that ran through my head at that moment, and every other moment after (that was prefaced with a face full of spider web) for that first month, was…. I am not cut out for country life.

When we moved in we made a few important purchases. Two of which topped the list. 1. A riding lawn mower. 2. Fencing to enclose the majority of the property. At this point of my country existence I had overcome the fear of spiderweb facials and thus was excited to mow the “vast kingdom” for my first time ever. “I am not cut out for country life” had not been a phrase that I had uttered in some time and as I sat on the lawnmower and took off, I sang, out loud, all of the lyrics to Green Acres that I knew. I felt positively chipper. Row after row I mowed, and the whole while I belted out various stanzas but by the 18th round of, “I get allergic smelling hay” I was now hot and unhappy plus there was a horrible stench in the air. I pushed on, now tired of singing Green Acres but having already sang the versus so many times; I couldn’t rid myself of the song, it was stuck. After an additional 15 minutes I finally stopped and stared, dumbfounded, at the mower. Why did it smell like death? I surveyed the land to no avail. I knew, something was laying in wait for me but I simply could not see where. More time went on, and I began to wonder if I couldn’t just leave the stinky section of the yard for later. If, by chance, my husband might not notice the corner, near the front was left unmowed. Then I saw it. A turtle. I was struck silent in the middle of, “Green acres is the place for me. Farm livin’ is the life for me. ”

You have to take a look at the most awesome version of Green Acres ever…

*Turtles, no matter how many friends they have, no matter how great the pond, no matter the food supply, or the free massages on Sundays…. they like to roam. (There is a fun fact for you.) Who would have known that with the installation of our new fence we would inadvertently kill off our entire turtle population.*

I once had a friend that wanted to make a calendar featuring “road kill”. Having since seen this idea on the internet. I know that there are at least two people in this world who think that it would be a funny. The reason she never seemed to follow through with it was, she couldn’t come up with 12 different animals that she could find splattered on the street. Now that I am a country dweller I see that it is all cyclical. There are times of the year that you see primarily skunks dead, a time of the year when it is primarily raccoons, etc.  Today, I started thinking and trying to come up with my own list of 12 different varieties of animals, I or my husband, has seen dead in the last year or two. The list includes: raccoon, armadillo, possum,  coyote, skunk, bird, dog, wild pig (three at the same time), snake, horse,  a cow and of course turtle. I was with my friend one time when she took a picture of a dead beaver. I have yet to see one of those out here.

2. The Chores, The Stores

As a side note, my husband took this picture today while we were waiting in line to pick the kids up from school.

Since that first day of school I have given some thought to the comment made by the woman in the office. The majority of the people out here have only lived in small towns. To them, it is all a matter of perspective. They can’t understand the convenience of 5 different grocery stores, gas stations, movie theaters, or retail shops in a 2 mile radius of their house. They don’t really understand variety or selection. A service man came recently to read the water meter. He told me that his wife wanted to move in to the city but he was happiest in the country. He had grown up in the big city and he never wanted to live there again. When I questioned which city he lived in, he responded Sherman. That “city” as of today has a total of 40,000 people living in it. He was 50ish years old. I can only fathom how many fewer people that “big city” had in his childhood. Like I said, though, it is a matter of perspective.

Once the children were settled in that first day we took off to explore the nearest town of Bonham, Texas. (You have to appreciate a town that feels there is no necessity to make yourself up, in any fashion, in order to go in to it.)  My husband and I used to play a game of going in to Walmart and trying to find someone that looked “normal”.  (Normal meaning someone that looked like they might be a transplant, like us.) I know what you are thinking. 1.  That the retail establishment automatically warrants the oddity of people who frequent it. 2. This sounds like a pretentious game. However, that wasn’t the intent and people in Bonham just have a different look and sound to them. Women seem to wear a superfluous amount of shiny  rhinestoned accessories and their hair always  poofs in odd places. Men all look like they just climbed off a tractor or finished hunting. . Plus,  this Walmart is the ONLY retail store (other than feed stores, hardware stores, or second hand shops) in the area. It is also the ONLY grocery store in miles and miles. It is an excellent gauge of all of the people that live in the vicinity.

On our first trip in to Walmart we saw this-

This man, clad in chaps, spurs, and a nice gray cardigan came jingling down the aisle that we were shopping on. (Take note of not only his apparel but also how short the shelving is in this store. Fewer people in an area obviously mandates less choices.) Angry that he couldn’t find the extra large jar of pickles that he regularly purchased, he took to berating an employee of the store about how the jar he bought always had the word CRISP printed on it. To this, without emotion, she turned the jar around, displaying the word crisp and proceeded to walk on. My husband, at this point, tells the crispy pickle loving cowperson, “All you need now is an extra large jar of mayonnaise to go with that”. (Obviously, a statement that would be amusing to us, because  of  the sheer volume of mayonnaise containers for sale at the store). His response? “I already have one”. Thus was our inauguration in to the area.

We have since lost interest in that game for a myriad of reasons. First being, I try to frequent that store as seldom as possible after hearing a mother and her young daughter screaming profanity at one another on aisle after aisle. It actually became so bad that with every, “fuck you” I found myself reciting gibberish to my children in an effort to distract them. It worked, and instead of hearing the oral assault, my daughter’s belief that I am insane was solidified. SECOND being, we simply became desensitized to it all and people blurting out, “Mmmm, I hadn’t had me no shake-n bake in a long time” didn’t seem so odd.

I didn’t have a clue that shake-n bake was even still around until I moved out to the country.

1. Good-bye, City Life

There are certain truths, when you live in the city, that you hold to be true everywhere. Little things such as a house that is missing windows and a roof should have no one inhabiting it. Horses shouldn’t be allowed through drive-thru windows. You should never have to use an entire tank of gas to get to the next gas station. Camo nor chaps should ever be all day/ everyday attire. Mayonnaise should never have an entire aisle to itself in a grocery store. Little things. When you move from the city to the country all of those truths are thrown out the window and you are left in a discombobulating trance. Up is down. Down is up. And the ground has an ever present state of shaky. Such was the case when we first moved from our beloved metroplex with a population of 6.5 million to a tiny town of 1700. (Just typing that makes me laugh.)

After having our third child, my husband and I, decided we needed a larger house. Since neither of us had a job that we felt committed to, the decision was made that we could move in any direction within 1.5 hours from our current location. I drew the circle on the map and started the hunt. After 6 months of searching I found the perfect house with the perfect school system for the children. I gave no regard to the size of the town it was located in or the financial demographics of the area. As a matter of fact, it is quite possible that instead of saying “I gave no regard” it would be more accurate to say I disregarded it completely. I noticed there was a hospital within 20 minutes and a Super Walmart within 10. Since Walmart owns the world already, what more would I need? (Never mind that a later drive to this Walmart would reveal that not all Super Walmarts are created equal and while Mayo ranked high in importance to their current clientele, healthy vegetarian options did not).

I will save you the drudgery of reading about the financing and the actual physical move and get to more interesting stories such as day two of our life in the middle of nowhere. The town we live in is an hour away from the most major city, Dallas. It is also, approximately, 20 minutes away from the closest Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald’s or any other corporation that to most people resembles civilization. With the majority of my clothes packed away in boxes that reached to the top of the 12 foot ceilings, I grabbed the only thing I could reach. This so happened to be a wonderful vintage polyester dress that I adored. I feel that I looked quite chic walking in to the elementary school to enroll our two oldest children. However, in actuality, I am not sure that the school personnel understood my eclectic fashion sense. I swear they still hold it against me to this day.

We live exactly 10 miles from the school. This drive takes us 8 minutes, give or take. While distance could be foreseen as a concern in a move out in to the country, speed is not. The speed limit is 70 mph. Everywhere. Everywhere. When the receptionist asked where we lived and we explained the straight shot back to our house she replied with, “Oh, you do live out in the country.” I sat in stunned silence. These people, and I say that with much respect, these people have no clue that they live out in the middle of no where. The 10 additional minutes from my point A to their point B did not put me one bit closer to anywhere, in my mind, important.