I grew up in the country. We played in the woods. I caught snakes for pets. We hunted. We fished. We swam at Pen’s Hole on The Fork, and caught crawdaddy’s in the creeks. The outdoors taught us about life. It taught us humanity, respect for all living things, including poison ivy and oak. I remember my Dad’s rules for the outdoors like the back of my hand. Don’t hurt animals. If you kill it, you have to eat it. We only kill for food. If you catch it, you have to clean it. Bate your own hook. Catfish can hurt. Spoons are better than knives when cleaning a fish, for kids. If you open a knife, close it, it’s bad luck if you let someone else. And so-on…
I spent my youth at a pond, lake, forest, in neighbors yards, or under the night sky. My Dad pointed out sunsets when they were beautiful. He picked wild flowers for me on the side of the road. He pointed out the dark sky and bright stars. He taught me where the Dippers and North Star were. The first and last time I saw the Aurora Borealis was with my Dad on a knob, in a cemetery late at night for that reason. He also taught me the love of cemeteries, visiting them and respecting our ancestors.
Then I became a teenager. I had dreams of city life, and eventually lived in Nashville for many years. I’m proof, you can take a country girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. While I will always be near a city, for the activities and culture, I need deer and turkeys grazing in my yard. I need rabbits laying under the shade of the trees. I need redtail hawks perching on fences, and moles tearing up my yard…. okay, I could do without the moles. I love frogs making beds in my herbs! I love garden spiders making my backdoor their home! But what I could live without, is Momma’ Spider carrying her babies around on my porch. My youngest son said, “We should kill it.” My response? “Are you going to eat it?”
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