2017-02-01 / Editorial

OUT YONDER

Don Lively

I hear them often.

There seems to be two separate families.

I think one of the families spends its nights on the eastern edge of my property, deep in the trees. The other, I believe, resides somewhere in the opposite direction, to the west, across the road on the late judge's tract, within easy access of the water in the old irrigation pond that Daddy and Willie built all those years ago.

Two families.

Two packs, actually.

Coyotes.

I nearly always hear them on full moon nights and new moon nights.

I know why they howl on full moons.

It's in response to my worthless dog, Lucy, AKA LooseE, and me, doing some howling ourselves.

The coyotes, sometimes both packs at the same time, follow suit.

I have no idea why they also seem to howl on new moons.

Maybe they're scared of the dark.

Yes, I hear them, but I almost never see them.

I saw coyotes regularly when I lived Out West. I saw them in the mountains and on the plains. In the country and in the city. Winter and summer. They were always around.

Not so much, around these parts.

I can only assume that Southern coyotes are not as amicable as their Rocky Mountain counterparts.

That's okay.

Hearing them, without seeing them, only adds to their mysteriousness, for me.

It's one of the things that makes living in the country unique.

One of many.

Out here in the country most of us have potholes that dot the length and breadth of our driveways. Most are not packed or paved and when the rains come, the rivulets wash away the weak places leaving behind barrelhead sized impressions. They're more of an inconvenience than a real problem. We spend a lot of time talking about how to patch them and we make plans to do just that. We just never seem to get around to it. The upside is, nobody can sneak up to the house without being heard.

The air is, unquestionably, clearer and more clean out in the country. There always seems to be a balmy breeze keeping the tree leaves and needles is a constant, gentle motion. Most days you can smell the pines or cedars. My trauma-damaged old lungs love to take in the country air.

That's not to say that everything in the country smells good. One recent year the fellow that farms the old home place decided to treat the field with some concoction, part of which was processed chicken renderings. I suppose it would have been tolerable if the sun never came out and started baking the nasty mess, but, when that happened, it stunk to High Heaven for days. In my non-farmer mind, I can't imagine what benefit the soil got from having poultry guts spread all over it, and, I can't fathom anything nastier. Thankfully, that only happened once.

Let's hope it stays that way.

Out in the country there are still plenty of forested areas. My place is no exception and the adjoining properties are also heavily wooded. If I so choose, I can walk to most of the homes scattered in every direction from my house and never leave the cover of the trees, only touching asphalt when I cross a road. After living semi isolated in the woods for the past several years, I'm not sure I could ever get used to living with neighbors just a few feet away.

Folks who live in the country tend to form familial pockets in which kin people live close by. It has much to do with the fact that some of the land where the homes are built is ancestral, having been in the clan for centuries. In my own locale, I live so close to the homesteads of a dozen cousins and a few aunts that I could walk to their places without getting out of breath or pulling a muscle. I like that.

Living in the country means quiet days and even quieter nights.

It means night birds and other tree critters singing you to sleep at night and others greeting you awake in the morning.

Things seem to move at a slower pace.

Which gives me plenty of time to ponder and think.

Like, maybe it's time to patch the driveway.

Or, maybe I'll just howl at the coyotes.

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