|My purple tree|
I've always been a country girl. I grew up in southeast and northeast Oklahoma. Until I moved to Norman a few years back, I'd always lived outside of town (unless you count Tahlequah in the dorms, I don't).
Sitting here makes me think of my childhood and the lessons I learned.
- Living in copperhead country, you never went outside barefoot. Unless you wanted daddy to yell at you and send you back in for tennis shoes. No flip flops, except in town, because they didn't protect your feet from all the things that could bite you. Not only did we have copperheads, we had a few rattle snakes, blue racers (extremely fast snakes that came in pairs. EEK!), scorpions, centipedes, all sorts of things. All this paranoia about us kids getting bit has made a little too overcautious I think. I always check my shoes for spiders and scorpions (even though I have never seen one since leaving southern Oklahoma). I won't go outside barefoot unless I know there are no snakes or other biting creatures. My yard has hundreds of ant hills (don't know if they are occupied though), so I always check my dogs for ant bites and won't go out back barefoot.
- Animal care is of utmost importance. My dad always had at least two bird dogs while I was growing up. Not much has really changed there. The only time I ever saw my dad discipline the dogs harshly was when they would get out of huge yard. He had them trained very well, even my mutt puppy knew better. One day my Meme (grandmother) surprised me with a rabbit. Even though I hadn't asked for it (I HAD asked for a rabbit but not from her or really expected one), I was told that she was my responsibility. That rabbit was the biggest baby you have ever seen. She was spoiled rotten. I had her for almost 6 years before she died, which considering she was full grown when I got her is a long time. I joined 4H and started raising rabbits. To pay for their food, I bred them and sold the babies. The earned their keep and gave me much pleasure throughout the years. Now that I have my own dogs, I try to take very good care of them. They are fed on a schedule, trained (well Tank not so much yet, we're working on that), and treated very well. While I was taught animals are for outside and are not people, I've fallen victim to letting them think they are people and keeping them inside. It suits their personalities and fits our little family well. They are my children and are raised as so. I detest animal abuse and will quickly turn in anyone I suspect of it. No animal deserves that.
- Property boundaries are there for a reason. Living in the country, this was somewhat blurred since we all walked across each others' pastures to get from house to house, but it was still known that you did not alter another person's property. We had neighbors that insisted part of our land was theirs, even though our deed specifically stated it was ours. The man who thought this was former State Representative Mike Mass. He tried to push my father into agreeing to this because of his political standing (very corrupt man, look him up). His sons would ride their four-wheelers through our fences and tear up our pasture. It was quite aggravating and caused my father much frustration. I don't know what exactly stopped them, but one day it all stopped. Now that I live in town, this has come in handy. I know better than to just chill on someone else's yard. Unfortunately, my neighbors have not taught their children this. I've come multiple times to them playing my yard, which while not that big of a deal, drives my pit bull crazy and she barks and growls through the door at them. I'm afraid they think she is a mean dog (which she isn't, she's a big puss), but they are in fact invading her territory and she can't go out to investigate them. Also, one of the neighbor kids continues to come into my backyard and steal our dog toys (only the Kongs, which if you know dog toys, are somewhat expensive). It's infuriating.
- Home-grown and homemade food always tastes better. We had a HUGE garden when I was young; seriously, it was at least an acre or two. I hardly ever remember buying vegetables. I loved to help in the garden. My favorite was when it was time to dig up the potatoes. I think I would eat half of what I dug up. If you've ever been a super serious gardener, I know you're grimacing thinking about what you put in the soil to make things grow bigger and better. At the age, I didn't care. I still really don't. I know what we put out there, and I'm still alive today. I think you develop a tolerance to that sort of thing when you grow up around it. No pesticides (other than the necessary) or shine spray to fuck with the taste. I hated it when winter would come and we would have to buy tomatoes from the grocery store. They tasted like cardboard, and still do come winter. We would buy ingredients for certain things, but for the most part everything was homemade (minus cake mixes, bread, and dairy/meat products). I'm wanting to get a garden started here. I'm not sure how well it would do, though. Vegetables are SO expensive, yet we are constantly told we need to eat healthy. It's hard to do so when you can't afford it. It's also very meditative for me; it takes me back to a simpler time in my life.
- Oklahoma weather is unpredictable. I call it bipolar. I remember being rushed to the basement hundreds of times. Dad would stand outside and watch it while talking to his brother to keep up on the forecast. The next day it would be pretty and sunny. No matter how many times the sky turned green or a tornado formed above our house, we were never hit. We did have one go through the backyard and pick up my rabbit hutch about ten foot in the air and drop it. Boy did Jim Giles get an ear full that night. He never showed any rotation in our area, not even close to it. Dad was furious. I was oblivious: at a friend's house, aggravated that the internet wouldn't work because I wanted to talk to a boy. Typical 13 year old. Even as I sit here, the weather can't make up its mind. For a few minutes it's warm and sunny, then the clouds roll in and I want a light jacket, then it's sunny again. I was told it was supposed to rain. I'll believe it when I have to take my computer inside for fear of ruining it.