In the Wilds

I woke last Sunday out in the wilds . . . the wilds of Owen County.

My day started with a natural desire to look out the window to see how the world looked, but as I pulled the curtain back, my pinky finger was met with a violent attack from a killer wasp. I tried to fight him off but he dodged a flailing left hand and struck again on my thigh.

Now utterly defeated, I backed away and only mumbled some wasp insult that I thought would really get at him, “Stupid, bony-legged, hornet wannabe.” Oh, that got him! Who needs a stinger when you wield an acerbic anti-wasp wit?

This brush with nature in my own bedroom reminded me that we really do live a little differently out here in the wilds of rural Owen County. Many of the urban and suburban standard services are not available to everyone. And the steps we take for regular daily living out here in God’s country are a little more complex and uncommon than in most modern lives.

Many haul water in or trash out. In fact, I still burn trash sometimes (Note: If it’s against the law to do so, I’m just kidding.) and was entertained by an online thread talking about burning trash like it’s an ancient ritual – like making candles or some other bygone home art form. I love burning trash (Note 2: unless it’s illegal, then I don’t do it.)

Out here, a lot of us use wood for heat which means we have to cut it, split it, keep it dry, and cut up kindling. Just not activities that are taking place in our cities and suburbs. But putting up dry wood before a cold snap is one of the country routines many of us truly enjoy.

And along with wasps, invading fake lady bugs, stink bugs, and other creepy crawlies keep us company in our rustic home. Out in our “yards” we have fox, coyote, possum, raccoon, wild turkey, deer, bobcats, bigfoot, bats, rabbits, moles, voles, and mice. And not always out in the yard – I release a trapped starling from the wood stove at least two or three times a year. A couple of years ago, I answered an emergency shriek from my wife to find her in the bathroom with an adorable baby banded snake. “Awww,” I said. “Get it out of here now!” M’lady replied.

I watched a scene a couple of months ago where my dog Clancy and his adopted brother Pete the Cat sat on the edge of the yard watching a gang of turkeys a hundred yards out who were, in turn, watching a herd of deer another hundred yards to the south. The three squads from the animal kingdom were mostly happily co-existing. The sight was fun to see – a reward for putting up with the extra duties of life in the wilds.

And the appearance of a stately buck out in the morning mist or the sounds of a pack of coyotes out in the woods are truly worth the price of admission to the country life.

I guess we ask for our animal visits, too. We keep those bird feeders full because once you start feeding them, just try telling the angry cardinal that’s attacking your window that you haven’t had time to get to the store for more bird seed.

All over our community, folks, young and old, are out in barns on cold early mornings taking care of goats, cows, pigs, and horses. It’s the 4-H and FFA lifestyle we choose willingly.

I would reckon that far more than our city cousins, we ford more streams, brave more rutted roads, and learn which roads flood first when the rains come and the river is up. We just sorta like that kind of thing. We don’t mind the stares when we travel into civilization and people in Carmel wonder why we coat our vehicles in mud and dust. We’re proud of our Owen County paint jobs.

My swollen pinky did not require an ambulance or an ER visit but it was a helpful trigger for my whining the rest of the day. “This pinky is really throbbing, better have some more Girl Scout cookies as a precaution.” “I’d love to make dinner, Honey, but this giant pinky.”

I love life in the wilds and I have a hunch you do, too.

Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value the beauty of Owen County.

If you would like to know more about how you can work with this local charity to help preserve the beauty of our communities, give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit in person here at our office at 60 E. Market Street in Spencer.

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