In the last few weeks, I’ve been struck by the many humorous and incongruous situations that living in the country affords, and I wanted to set poetic descriptions of them to music for your entertainment. I’m having trouble picking one song, though; so many have humor potential in the title, such as Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. I’m sure you can guess the substance that comes to my mind first, what with our many barnyard animals and recent rain.
Actually, the first thing I thought of was my youngest son, who has decided to imitate our animals and fertilize our yard with his own excrement. Cue the Brittney Spears song “Oops, I Did it Again.” My wife related his most recent incident to me yesterday, saying he went behind a tree in the yard, and then cried for help to wipe as he stood there with his pants down, just as everyone was supposed to be loading up in the van to leave for an appointment…of course. My wife is such a good Mom; she managed to get him wiped (outdoors) and all the kids loaded in the van for an appointment in a matter of minutes, and didn’t kill anyone. That’s impressive, especially after a long day of housecleaning and home schooling. But that’s my wife. (happy sigh) Cue DC Talk’s “She’s That Kind of Girl.”
The other uniquely country situation that has me waxing poetic instead of my car is that the rain makes my driveway grow, and then I have to mow it. Yup, my driveway; two gravel strips with a grass strip in between, and the chickweed smells pretty good after a good mow. Puddles form after each storm (that rhymed!), and the sound of gravel crunching under the tires is a familiar, reassuring sound, like a good book from your childhood. (Let your mind take you back for a minute.)
Life in the city hides us effectively from the connections between God’s creation and our refined results. My wife once asked a friend where ham came from; the friend replied that, of course, it comes from the deli, duh. Um, do delicatessens grow out of the city concrete? Does food grow on shelves? Do clothes grow on hangers? Do children grow in the yards of day-care facilities? Do cell phones grow on the end of our arms? You get my point. Cue the song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” because heck, in our pop culture, we don’t even know what real fire is, or how to start one without natural gas, chemicals, or explosives. Thank God for the Boy Scouts and Atwoods.
Which reminds me: my boys and I got up early today to go start a fire under our ever-growing burn pile. It was supposed to be a perfect day – not cold, cloudy, not too windy. But we walked outside into a lovely soaking rain, and so we changed our plans: we’re killing a rooster intead. John Denver, you may begin “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” if you please. Or maybe “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes,” which must be the only time I’ve ever seen two apostrophes back to back when used correctly.
See, we have two roosters, which fills the crowing quota for several counties in every direction. The hen we have is smarter than either rooster, and neither of them boys lays any eggs. (Greek accent)”So…there you go!” Simple logic says we repurpose one of them for internal resource renewal, which means we eat it. Cue the song from Disney’s Little Mermaid, “Les Poissons”, in which a French chef sings to the seafood he’s about to obliterate in several tasty ways. (Maniacal laugh)
Here in the country, we treat critters as several different things: mortal enemies, family members, and honorable competitors, depending on whether we are hunting the same prey, sharing living space, or in need of therapy. (Don’t try to match the motivation to the description; sometimes they all overlap.) But in every case, we country folks believe we are Tom Bombadil inside our property line – we are master. Animals do not have any rights where the property line begins; they defend their nests, we defend ours.
They can move; we planted ourselves and our garden so we wouldn’t have to move again. Cue the Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is My Land,” and stop it there, ’cause we ain’t sharin’ it with no critters. Especially wasps. My rule is, if it stays outside, let it go unless it’s threatening our stock. If it comes in the house, it’s dead. I will stay up half the night, move the furniture, take down decorations, and delay dinner if necessary. It’s that serious. Plus it’s a great excuse to own and shoot firearms. Cue the theme from that hit 80’s tv show, “The A-Team,” and watch the jeep flip high in the sky every time…beautiful.
Last week, I got ambitious, by which I mean my-wife-had-to-bail-me-out-of-a-jam- which-makes-a-good-story-now-that-it’s-over-and-no-one-got-hurt. Ever been there? Live long enough in the country, and you will. And your wife will have the same kind of story where you come through for her, too. God makes sure you depend on each other to keep your two egos in check and to maintain the respect for the man and the love for the woman that you both need from each other. And living along with the rhythm of nature ensures that many such adventures will keep you both from getting complacent, timid, lazy, or spoiled. Or lacking in humorous conversation. Cue the song “We’re From the Country, and We Like it That Way.”
My ambitious project? Chopping down another tree. I have done it several times before, so it didn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but then my kind neighbor got involved, and offered me her chainsaw. Once I got it going, a strange transformation took place. (Transformers’ Theme: “More Than Meets the Eye”) I made short work of the first tree (saw that coming didn’t you? Get it? Saw?) and decided to do more trees. I cleared old stumps off the hill, cut up nearly-fallen branches around our pond, and cut fallen trees into logs for burning and seats for putting around the fire pit. And then, I saw one last tree to take down for the day. If all went well, I’d have time for a shower and nap before attending church that evening. (Dramatic pause.)
So I cut on the tree, and as I severed the last of the trunk, it fell sideways…about an inch or two into the tree beside it, and it happened to fall into the crotch of two of that tree’s branches. This meant it was stuck in its semi-fallen position until I could move the bottom of the tree enough to change the center of gravity, and hopefully convince the tree to let go of its neighbor and embrace the good earth. (I had to read “The Good Earth” in high school, and it was another well-written frustrating story that it was good for me to deal with. It helped me become the fine writter I yam toodo’ljany;iugaos) Now, that was the plan, except for one little thing: the tree, although severed, still rested all its weight on the stump…and on the chainsaw that was still between the two. (sigh)
I couldn’t remove the chainsaw by my own power, so I had no idea what to do. My wife, sensing I was in distress, came out to ask if she could help. Cue the Amy Grant song, “I Love You,” because I really did need her help. We decided to hitch a chain to our van and the tree trunk to pull it off the stump and the chainsaw, and then maybe I could do something to the tree. Maybe.
My wife followed my directions and our van slid all over the yard as we yanked on the massive tree. It did come off the stump, and I did manage to rescue the chainsaw, but the tree wouldn’t fall out of the neighboring tree, so we decided to do something else safe: climb an extension ladder and use a chainsaw fifteen feet off the ground. Country air gives you confidence, I guess. Or muddles your brain when you are desperate to finish something. Possibly both.
So my wife held the ladder and got a sawdust shower while I cut on the tree, and tried very hard not to get the chainsaw stuck again. I got close several times, but managed not to cut off a limb from my body or get the saw stuck. God be praised. Finally, the bottom piece collapsed on the ground, not crushing my wife or knocking me off the ladder, and the top piece…stayed in the tree. (sigh) Even after going up higher on the ladder and cutting off another piece, we still couldn’t yank off the top piece with a rope. So our oak tree has some large hackberry branches now; it’s the 8th wonder of the world. You should come see it…and walk off, shaking your head and chuckling. Cue the Big Band song, “Woodchoppers’ Ball.” If you dare.
We were soooooo sore the Tuesday after. Wow. It felt like high school football practice again. But we were very thankful for power tools, generous neighbors, sturdy vehicles, muscle rub, and guardian angels. And our bed; it’s soooooo soft. Ahhhhh…Cue Andrew Peterson’s “You Can Rest Easy,” and have some hot tea. Or possibly cold Gatorade, depending upon your latest adventure outdoors. Don’t forget to check for ticks, which is another country song…of course.