(Welcome back to Carol Cox, who's guest blogging in Judy's stead this month.)
When I tell people I live near a small town, the first question they ask—after the initial pitying glance—is, “How small is it?” Let’s put it this way:
It’s small enough that one of the favorite pastimes of the kids in town is standing on street corners yelling, “Wrong way!” at out-of-towners who don’t read the One Way signs. Small enough that a traffic jam consists of drivers stopping in the middle of the road to visit with friends traveling in the opposite direction. Small enough that mugging is something our kids do in front of a camera.
Our property is located some distance out of town on open range. My dictionary defines “open range” as a large area of grazing land without fences or other barriers, but around here it means you’d better put up a fence if you don’t want cattle grazing in your front yard. So technically, I really do have a home on the range.
It isn’t quite like the old Western song, though. We don’t have any buffalo roaming nearby (although there are three of them penned up at a truck stop along I-40). On the other hand, there’s that line about the deer and the antelope playing . . .
Driving home last week, I rounded a corner and had to brake to avoid an animal standing in the road. While it isn’t unusual to come across one of the local rancher’s cows on this stretch, this time I was face to face with a pair of antelope.
After staring me down for a moment or two, they trotted off a few yards and struck a pose, giving me time to snap this photo.
Scenes like this are one of my favorite parts of country living. As a writer, I love sitting on my front porch with my laptop, watching a mama quail lead her babies across the drive while I’m typing the next chapter of my novel. Or drawing inspiration from one of our 360-degree sunsets. Or enjoying the view of the Black-Eyed Susans I’ve spent years coaxing into bloom.
Living in a rural area does mean there are some tradeoffs. It’s seventeen miles to the nearest supermarket, and fifty miles (one way) to the nearest Wal-Mart, movie theater, or mall. But since we make the drive through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable, it’s hard to see that as a disadvantage.
City dwellers talk a lot about things like traffic snarls and the current crime rate, but I have stories of my own. Like the one about the killer pumpkin vine. Or the morning the javelina appeared in our back yard. Or the time we found a skunk in our sunroom. And then there’s the day I got locked inside a chicken coop. I feel a little sorry for the city folks. It’s hard to compete with stories like that. And while they’re stuck in traffic amidst the concrete canyons, I’ll be sitting on my front porch staring at the wide, sapphire sky.
Unlike the song, I can’t say that these skies are “not cloudy all day,” but I’d rather look at those puffy cotton balls scudding across a field of blue than sit behind a diesel-belching semi any day.
Home on the range—gotta love it.