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Another Day in the Country

How you know it’s country living

© Another Day in the Country

This morning, as I sat on my porch swing eating breakfast, I began writing this column in my head.

Often, when I’m sitting there around 8 in the morning, the sprinklers are going, and I’m up and down, turning water off and on, pulling the hose, giving the greenery around my house a little drink, helping them face the day and the heat that’s sure to come.

Always, I’m thinking, in the stillness of the countryside, in the blessed quiet of a small town, where do city folk find quiet spaces to think?

There’s always something going on. Even at a coffee shop early in the morning, there is bustle, machines whirring, and omnipresent traffic in the background.

My favorite bistro is outside, on the swing — my favorite place to sit. There’s a table on the side porch, but I seldom eat there. There’s a rocker by my bedroom door, but you won’t find me there very often either.

It’s the front porch that I choose — in the shade, where there’s a soft breeze tickling the wind chime.

When the sprinklers are on, in the early morning stillness, I count the birds that come to the water. This morning, there were cardinals, doves, robins, sparrows, a wren, orioles, and a blue jay, which chased the others away.

I thought I saw a flycatcher but I can’t be certain; they are so quick. They take turns drinking, bathing, fluttering, and playing with the water. They love it, and I love watching them.

This morning, I’m having eggs from my very own hens and peach jalapeno jam, which I made myself, on an English muffin bought from my favorite country market.

I’m drinking Korean coffee, introduced to me by my very own Korean son-in-law.

Everywhere around me, there is stillness.

The trash guys came through in the very early hours, but they are long gone. The school bus drove by at 7, picking up the kiddos. Everyone who’s going to work has gone, and the rest of us in these five square blocks of civilization are a pretty quiet lot.

I hear only one bird calling out a warning as a hawk circles overhead. That has to be the blue jay; he’s usually the sentry.

There are no cars on the road, no airplanes in the sky that I can see or hear. I’m in the country.

In California, where my children live, it also is country. We’ve always tried to live in rural areas, our family seeking out these places.

We love the more isolated, independent, quiet, self-sufficient spots to live, and prided ourselves a bit in finding them no matter where work called.

And here I am, living out my final years in the country.

It may not be the most convenient place to live or the most exciting. There aren’t a lot of family members around, but there are a few.

You have to search out your own cultural opportunities, entertainment, and excitement. A grocery store is not just around the corner; you have to plan ahead. Your rewards are simple — stillness, for instance.

In a bigger place, with sidewalks and real curbs, a drug store and a gas station — even though they are smaller — there’s still traffic.

In a hamlet or a village with conveniences like stores there’s more traffic. In the small towns, most likely the dying town, there’s very little traffic.

When a truck drives by, I pretty much know who it is. It’s Darren or Don, A.J. or David. It used to be Billy, but not so much anymore. I miss him.

As the trucks mosey by, sometimes stopping in the middle of the road to talk to a neighbor, it still isn’t traffic jammed up like you find in the city. There’s no backup at the stop sign on the corner. 

If I listen carefully, I hear a chainsaw start up. I can pretty much guess who it is because I know who lives in that direction. He’s progressive, neat, clearing something up.

I hear bird song again. A rooster crows, and I know whose rooster it is and what he looks like. He’s a feisty little bantam who lives across the road. 

Sir Reginald, who rules my hen house these days, seldom crows. He still sounds embryonic.

He’s a good rooster, making sure all the hens are in as the sun goes down. He stands at the chicken house door, daring ducks to come inside, but he’s not flashy.

These young hens that I ordered this spring are a wild-looking lot. They remind me of Amazon warrior women: tall, long legged, haughty looking, and fierce. Yet Reginald still rules somehow.

My spring folly of chicks and ducklings is beginning to lay eggs — one petite, pristine blue egg in the nest box every few days from one warrior woman.

One haphazardly laid down, oddly shaped, usually dirty egg in a corner is from the ducks.

I put down hay, hoping the ducks would make a nest of some kind, but have no luck.

The chickens scratched in the hay, spreading it all over the henhouse yard, and the ducks ignored the invitation toward domesticity.

These are moments, which meld into months, when you’re spending a day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 28, 2023

 

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