A Beginner’s Guide to Country Living from the Perspective of a City Mouse
Prior to actually living in the country, I was more of a “City Mouse.” I had spent the vast majority of my life either in suburban areas or urban i.e. “the hood.”
As a result, I possessed a rather idealized notion of what life in the country is like. I imagined quiet, peaceful evenings spent enjoying sweet tea on a front porch swing listening to the crickets and birds while basking in the solitude and beauty of the surrounding nature.
This was not what I found when I moved to the country. To save anyone else from a similar feeling of shock and disappointment, I would like to guide you through the somewhat jarring transition from city life to life in the country and acquaint you with some of the customs you may not be familiar with so you can avoid calling 911 for an inappropriate situation.
First of all, you won’t be sitting on your front porch enjoying anything. Someone is always burning something, and I mean huge fires with flames licking the sky. You won’t be able to breathe out there, and the mere act of walking to the mailbox will leave your hair and clothes smelling as if you are homeless and have been hovering over a garbage can fire for warmth or as if you just got back from a camping trip and haven’t showered yet.
When I first saw one of these fires, my instinct was to call 911. I recall mentioning it to Greg as I peered out the curtains in fear that the flames were going to spread.
Greg replied, “Oh, don’t call 911. That’s just Boat-Man-Dave burning leaves.”
(Boat-Man-Dave is always burning something. Worst neighbor ever.)
So, that picturesque scene I described? You won’t be listening to crickets and birds, either. You won’t be able to hear them over the gunshots.
After living in the hood, I equated gunshots with danger. My first reaction was to call 911, but once again, I was wrong.
It sounded like there was a war outside. I know what gunshots fired in rapid succession from a semi-automatic weapon sound like, so I voiced my concern. Greg found my reaction comical as I shied away from the windows and grabbed the phone.
“That’s just the guy across the street. He gets drunk and shoots his guns,” Greg explained, as if that was the most natural way for an old man to spend three or four hours in the middle of the day almost every day except days when I imagine he is either passed out or out of ammunition.
Also, enjoying nature is kind of difficult when nature is interrupted as shown below. Yep, that’s a boat. Of course, this is a picture of Boat-Man-Dave’s yard.
In the country, rusted, dilapidated vehicles aren’t taken to a scrapyard, they are decorations. Did someone say camping?
(I really wish I could say that some of these weren’t pictures taken of my own yard, but I don’t want to lie to you.)
The preferred mode of transportation is a golf-cart even though there is not a golf course for miles. Golf-carts are personalized and often lifted to mirror the trucks with oversized tires. They need continuity in the driveway, I suppose.
If you decide to take advantage of the lack of traffic (other than the golf-carts which will likely impede your drive to work) to have a nice stroll with your dog or kids, I want to warn you in advance, you will most likely suffer a dog bite. Oh yeah, and the dog will not be up-to-date on its shots. You will probably visit the E.R., and if your finances are like mine, you might opt out of the rabies shot and spend the next ten tense days wondering if your rage is a symptom of the onset of rabies or just a natural by-product of living in what could almost be described as a post-apocalyptic waste-land where laws no longer apply.
The other day, two detectives in an unmarked vehicle stopped me to ask if I had seen an individual they were looking for. When I said I hadn’t, one of the men asked me if I had seen anything strange.
I leaned forward, my voice barely above a whisper as I replied, “Sir, people around here shoot guns for no good reason, start enormous fires, and ride around on golf carts even though there is no gosh-damned golf-course anywhere near here. To be honest with you, it would be better to ask me if I have seen anything normal.”
It’s not all bad, though. Humans are highly adaptable creatures, so you might get used to it. I have. (Yes, this is me sitting on a golf-cart with my dog and parrot.)