Monday, August 16, 2010

Rural Retreat

As I may have mentioned before, my family lives smack dab in the middle of Suburban Hell. If you look up "White Middle Class Suburban Mother" in the dictionary, you will see my photo. I may or may not be smiling. Why? It often feels like I'm living a big fat juicy cliche. Not a nice feeling. To a small degree, it's okay. Life is convenient and easy. Small kids outnumber adults by a large margin. Or maybe it just feels that way. Did that I mention that life is easy and convenient? Oh yes, I did. There must be more. Wait, of course, it's fairly safe and has good schools.

The downside is that life (outside the home) isn't that interesting. Everyone seems EXACTLY the same. There isn't much character in our surroundings to be spoken of. See above photo. I once went to Target and there were four of the EXACT SAME mini vans parked in four spots right in line. Same make, same model, identical same color. I wasn't even surprised. I am one of five people who actually drives a sedan. My daughter recently asked me to get some of those white stick-on, stick figure people for the back window of the car. Note to self: time to move. I'm just not interested in telling the world how many people/animals are in our family by sticking decals on my car. But, trust me on this one.....I am the oddball.

Another downside, at least for me, is the wildlife deficit. You can't drive past 1/10th of an acre without there being some development. Residential (think cookie cutter!), church, office, church, retail, church, self storage, church, massive apartment complex. You get my drift. But barely any wildlife to speak of. Maybe it's just me. I was lucky to grow up in a fairly rural environment. Once I learned to drive, I'd often stop the car in the middle of the road to save a crossing turtle. (Yes, I'd put him/her on the opposite side of the road.) It's not something I think about all the time but, when I'm exposed to it again, I realize that Nature, wildlife, something major is missing from my life.

Sophie and I just returned from a visit to Grandma & Grandpa's house. I'm going to start calling our visits there a "Rural Retreat". On the drive there last week, we passed a field of cows. It was so beautiful, so stunning, with the sunset and the verdant hills, that we turned around on the highway to drive past it a second and then third time. There were some cows shoulder deep in the pond and the sight of it gave us both a silly little giggle. Yes, I'm someone who is oddly comforted by a field full of cows. When I first moved to Charlotte, twelve years ago, I knew exactly where to drive to see a field full of cows. Fast forward twelve years and you can probably guess......there's a MASSIVE subdivision in that field. Stone Creek Ranch. Typical suburbia. There are no stones, no creeks and definitely no ranches. How I wish. Come to think of it, I don't even know where to find a field of cows these days, but I can assure you it's pretty far away.

I was thinking about this on Thursday as I was driving from Lynchburg to Charlottesville to visit a friend. I was so content on this drive. This was the view out my front windshield. Aside from the ugly highway, there was nothing but trees for miles and miles. Other people might be bored by this drive but not me.

That night, as I was driving back into my parents' neighborhood, this sweet little being was there to greet me.

I stopped in the middle of the road to let the fawn pass. She was so quiet, so gentle. I had a big smile on my face. I know the deer are a huge nuisance to those who live nearby. The deer eat their plants and tear apart their gardens. Make the dogs bark. Driving at night is downright scary. I get all of that. Still, I enjoyed this little dose of Mother Nature while I could.

This morning, back in Charlotte, I came upon a common sight here. Geese. Canadian Geese. In a church parking lot. There were about 30 of them resting on the asphalt surface. I stopped to take some pictures. I was slow and gentle in my movements so they didn't mind my presence. I'm one of the few people who actually like the geese and never complain about them.

I guess geese can't read. :-)

Here, in my adopted hometown, you have to search hard for the wildlife. Blink and you might miss it. I'm going to try harder to appreciate the little bits I encounter. At the same time, I will always look forward to our "Rural Retreats", when I can be reinvigorated with the beauty and simplicity of Mother Nature's vast and varied gifts.

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