by Annette Dashofy
I’ve lived my entire life surrounded by pastures and farmland and I suspect that life here has a few differences from life in the city. I could be wrong. I previously posted about the presence of coyotes and learned that they have encroached on town dwellers, too. So my musings on life in rural USA on this first day of spring may only serve to teach me that we city-folks and country-folks are more alike than not. Following are a few experiences from rural Washington County.
1. We’ve been awakened on several occasions by the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker pounding on the outside of our log cabin. Usually the feathered beast chooses the wall by the head of our bed. Not sure why. But let me tell you, woodpeckers are loud! And they leave a neat little pile of sawdust under their work areas. My hubby, the Great Hunter decided that the one little woodpecker (along with some assistance from a swarm of bore bees) was going to eat our entire house. He tied an old-fashioned mouse trap to a string and hung it outside our bedroom window at a site where the bird chose to frequent. He only intended on scaring it away, imagining the snapping trap would send it looking for bugs elsewhere. I, on the other hand, had visions of a flopping woodpecker stuck in a mousetrap tied to our house and me, the animal lover, desperately trying to free it. Instead, it moved to another part of the house and took up its search for a meal there.
2. I’m pretty sure those previously mentioned bore bees are not solely country pests. If you’ve got a wood house, you’ve likely got bore bees regardless of location. For the uninitiated, bore bees are those large, generally slow moving bees that sound like a military helicopter buzzing past. They drill precise holes in wood and deposit their eggs in them. Wood preservative does not deter them. Insect repellent only makes them mean. Once again Hubby AKA Great Hunter fears they will destroy our humble abode. His weapon of choice? A tennis racket. He’s creating a new sport called Whac-A-Bee. Similar to Whac-A-Mole, except the goal is to swing the racket, make contact with one of those buzzing menaces and send it, if not into outer space, at least into the next county. That would be Allegheny, so if you Pittsburgh folks notice an influx of large buzzing insects, blame my hubby.
3. With the arrival of spring also comes the arrival of spring peepers. These tiny frogs with very large vocal cords begin serenading me at this time of year. They usually start with one brave (foolish) peeper before being silenced by a blast of snow and/or cold. But they return and before long hundreds of voices fill the night air with their song of “Knee Deep.” Surely you’ve heard the ages-old question “How deep is a frog pond?” Peepers supply the answer. “Knee deep.”
4. I hate to admit it, but this time of year my shoes are always muddy. Just walking from the front porch to my car in the driveway entails two or three steps through what will be grass in another month or so. Right now with the melting snow and the early spring showers, it’s mud. If I need to look pulled together and must wear dress shoes, I carry them to the car, my feet encased in Muck Boots. If you don’t know what Muck Boots are, you probably live in the city. But mostly I have mud on all my sneakers and boots and shoes. If you see me anytime in the next month, don’t look at my feet.
5. Besides the spring peepers and the abundance of birdsongs, my favorite sound of spring is the call of baby calves to their mama cows. Baby colt whinnies are even better, but since we no longer have horses, I’m stuck with the neighbors calves. Newborn calves are adorable. And their adolescent “Maaa!” brings a smile to my face every time. Unless they’re “Maaa-ing” in my back yard. You see, baby calves by their very nature are small and curious and tend to find the tiniest breaks in the fence that have occurred over the winter, but no one noticed. Adult cattle didn’t find the minute holes…if they had, they’d have worked at them and made them big enough to escape through themselves. But the youngsters find them and end up in my yard with no clue how they got there or how to get back. Rule number one about cattle: they never return through the same hole in the fence from which they got out. Rule number two about cattle: they will not return to their own pasture through an open gate, regardless of the number of farmers or the amount of coaxing, swearing and herding. They prefer to make a new hole and squeeze through it thus creating more work for the cattleman.
Anyone have any urban spring tales to share? Suburban? Anyone else from the country want to add to my list?
Happy First Day of Spring everyone!