Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: City Mouse or Country Mouse?

Though I have a good dose of city in my background, I am a country mouse through and through.
I enjoy the stimulation and selection the city has to offer. But when I'm in the city, I can't help but focus on the hustle and bustle all around. I notice pople and wonder about them. After awhile, the sheer number and variety of individual people and their activities becomes numbing.
When I first moved to Idaho, I lived in a house in the country. I loved it. I came from living in a town apartment and it felt good to no longer be always semi-aware of what the people who shared my building were doing.
I loved sitting on my back porch and being able to see out across farmland--field after rolling field.
The quiet.
I watched the seasons change by observing what was happening in the fields: crops were planted, then grew, were harvested, then bare fields lay cold and quiet.
This part of Idaho was flat and open and I could be audience to the theatric dramas unfolding on the stage of the sky.
Small moments showed me that country life has its own kind of technology. At random times enormous green and yellow farm machinery contraptions driven by baseball capped farmers would go slowly roaring by the house.
The crop duster would make its sudden loud appearance in the springtime, early in the morning before I was out of bed. When it worked the fields next to my house, I felt I could reach up and touch the plane with my hand, it flew down so low. Pass after pass, roaring close overhead. Then it was gone.
I do think it takes a bit of courage to live alone in the country. You have a tendency to run into strange, unknown creatures and bugs.
Basements are always a bit of an unknown and I'll never forget how soon after I moved in, I discovered a giant black stink beetle crawling across my basement floor. He acted as if he owned the place. He did not skitter like most of the bugs I'd previously run into; he sauntered. He also paused and raised his hindquarters warningly when I made him feel threatened. He was much too big for me to smash. I didn't know what to do. My sister, who was visiting me, suggested we cover him with a heavy bowl. And that's what we did until we got a neighbor to dispose of him for us. In my later quick trips to the basement I often ran into his friends and I hated every single one of them. Luckily, someone told me about a wonderful bug killer spray I could get at the local feed store and I used it with a vengence.
I was also visited by mice in my country home and the experience also exposed me to country people's fix-it generosity. A little mouse was one of my first visitors, but while she was very cute, she could not be encouraged to linger. I told people I had mice and that I needed a cat. Not long after, when a group of women showed up at my door to welcome me to the community, one of them carried not one, but two tailless kittens. Betsy and Tacy have been my companions ever since and proved themselves quite adept at controlling the mouse population. One spring a couple years later, we had another mouse population explosion. The cats did their job faithfully, but took to leaving little decapitated mouse corpses on the walkways, earning them the nicknames Betsy Ali and Tacy Muhammed.
I also became aware I had become accustumed to country ways when I visited my parents in the city. One day I was with my dad in his office and someone popped his head in to ask a question, make arrangements for some aspect of an upcoming event. The exchange seemed blindingly quick to me--it was over in less than a minute. The same conversation would have taken ten minutes at least where I was living. It seems there are so many leisurely preliminaries and side trips to country conversations. I knew I had become a country girl when snappy conversation left me a little dizzy.
I no longer live in that country house, but my sleepy small town is rural enough for me to still enjoy a sound background of mostly quiet and feel in touch with country rhythms and ways.


myrtle beached whale said...

great post. When I read it I thought of John Denver singing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." Might be too old of a reference for you.

kikare said...

Sleepy small town - Yes!

Clockworkchris said...

wow-so much detail-I loved the stories of the stink bugs and mice, and tailless cats. You really have lived in both places once you can realize how conversations take 10 times as long, but are more relaxed and friendly in the country. Well written.

gautami tripathy said...

I like posts with such vivid details. I can feel the taste, the smell, the feel of the place.

Patois said...

And people think the cities are full of violence. Stink bugs that saunter? Decapitated mice? Eek! Great post.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Very evocative post, I lived in rural Malawi for two years and goodness the bugs we saw there!

Anonymous said...

I do think it takes a bit of courage to live alone in the country.

Good point. I agree.

Nice post.

Matthew said...

Interesting how our life rhythyms change as we acclimate to different locales. I don't think I've ever come a cross a bug like that one although the roaches in Virginia can be nasty customers.

Molly said...

We drove through Idaho on our way to Oregon once and we were amazed at how beautiful that countryside can be!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Loved this line: I knew I had become a country girl when snappy conversation left me a little dizzy.