2018-07-11 / Editorials

Don Lively

COUNTRY SIDE

(Reprinted from 2012)

So I was driving back from my favorite joint down on the river. Okay, well, it’s actually the only joint down on the river but I like it. I’d had a nice time listening to live music, enjoying good conversation and showing off my pool shark skills from a pretty young thing from Illinois. I was on a back road. It was paved. Nothing I can do about that. They blacktopped it without asking my opinion. Anyway, I topped the hill, thankfully just doing a mosey pace, only to come face to face with some jackass standing in the middle of the road blocking my way.

I let down the window and yelled.

“ Get your tail out of my way! “

He just gave me an arrogant stare. Didn’t budge an inch so I sat on the horn. After a minute or two he decided to amble on over to the shoulder of the road.

He took his sweet time about it.

Or maybe her.

No idea. I can’t tell a male jackass from a female without getting a little closer.

It was the four legged kind.

A donkey.

Finally it moved into the ditch to graze. I pulled alongside. I felt obliged to give it a lecture about road safety and being out so late at night alone. It totally ignored me, much like my kids started doing about a nanosecond after their little eardrums began functioning, so I left it to its late night dining.

Living in the country you never know what might be just around the corner.

Country living.

There’s a magazine that goes by that name. I read it sometimes. But that glossy periodical, which is mostly glossy advertising, doesn’t touch the reality. Living city bound for all the years I did until I moved back to the homeplace, I’ve come to appreciate the places the neon and street lights don’t penetrate.

In the country, when it’s new moon, the dark is so total that if there’s a power outage and all the ambient lights inside the house, from the alarm clock, the computer, the cable box and all the other devices that produce digital red or blue reminders of the electronic age…when they are suddenly gone I can’t see my own hand in front of my own face. It happens fairly often out in the country and for the first few seconds it’s spooky. But after the initial shock of being plunged into utter darkness, it takes me back to a time when the alarm clock was a wind up gadget, the TV produced no light when it was switched off and the moonless nights were pitch black.

On the other hand, when it’s full moon out in the country you can walk the roads and paths guided by light brighter than some modern day room lamps. And because you’re in the country, especially if it’s anywhere in the Blessed South, that full moon gives you a perfectly acceptable excuse to haul off and howl to your heart’s content.

Try it sometime.

Those same country nights can be so still that you can hear the frogs playing their music on an irrigation pond a quarter mile away, clear as day.

Are they playing Dixie?

Country quiet has to be experienced to be understood. Some nights I sit on the north porch and just listen to the nothingness. No human sounds. Well, expect when some jackass, the two legged genus, drives by on the road with his stereo cranked up so loud it could be heard in Hephzibah. Not much I can do about that without committing a felony.

Out in the country, if you chance to find yourself in the middle of the right triangulated neck of the woods, you can listen to a conversation between three owls, there always seems to be three of them, deep in the trees calling back and forth to each other about whatever it is that owls discuss. It’s mesmerizing, each of the magnificent raptors perched high up in the forest canopy communicating with his chat mates miles away. Don’t even bother to try to sneak close enough to see them cause they’ll spot you before you take five steps. Be content to eavesdrop on the night calls from a distance.

My place in the country side also has voices from the past, memories.

Daddy and Mister Chester taking me coon hunting.

Aunt Annie’s strawberry patch.

Mister Pat’s mobile fruit stand.

Mister Scott’s store that had everything from cane poles to moon pies.

Just a few things you won’t find cityside.

I’m here to stay.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin’At The Dixie Moon, and South O’Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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