1. I thought I lived in the country when I moved to Charles Town. Turns out I lived in a small town. Not to say others didn’t live in the country just a short distance away, but I was a townie.
2. You thought you’d seen about every insect already in your lifetime. Think again. This has its highs and lows. I’ve never seen more varieties of dragonflies and butterflies, but also ginormous stingy creatures and bugs you can’t even see! I can do without the centipedes climbing out of our drains, too. Spider web production begins the moment you park your car.
3. Once you’ve gotten an infected tick bite, you’ll get vigilant about checking for those suckers.
4. If it can grow, it will. Everywhere. One example: I live in an area that is heavily logged by the timber industry. Vast sections of trees are mowed down, leaving an Armageddon-like landscape in its wake. And yet, the second it’s cleared, plant life begins growing in that same space. I’ve also seen plant life in the middle of the lake on log stumps. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
5. Wildlife is abundant and a joy to watch. Also, if you give wildlife a good habitat, it will hang out. It sometimes sounds like Jurassic Park out there in the surrounding woods—day or night. And I love the toad serenades that happen every night!
6. It’s d-a-r-k at night. There is no light pollution, and a full moon is pretty epic. You can also see all the stars, just like when I went camping in the mountains as a kid.
7. Aside from the insects, birds and critters—and in our neck of the woods, the occasional military plane flying through—it’s blessedly quiet. We don’t hear traffic, or the constant droning of someone’s lawn mower, leaf blower or snow blower.
8. You can pick your own assortment of wildflowers (or pretty weeds) as they grow in abundance along the sides of the roads.
9. The best fried chicken I’ve ever purchased (not to be confused with the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten, which my husband makes) happens to be in a tiny roadside store near my house at a place called Granny B’s.
10. The people here are among the nicest I’ve ever met. Strangers start up conversations in the grocery store line, have hopped off their tractor to introduce themselves, and in general, say hello or smile in our comings and goings. Moreover, not only has there been an absence of racial tension in a place with an ugly history, it’s been quite the opposite.
11. We had to cut down three trees in order to get Internet service, and even then, it’s pretty lacking. It’s still a good tradeoff.
12. I may be guilty of a false sense of security, but I feel pretty dang safe out here.
13. The deer here are smart! I’ve seen more deer in a short time living here than I’ve seen in my entire life, and yet they always seem to get out of the way, or turn and run in the safe direction instead of crossing the road, when I approach in my vehicle. If they do cross, you have plenty of time to see them. I’ve seen one deer as road kill. One. I don’t know how else to explain it, other than these four-legged friends are savvy! And one of the best things going about plentiful deer is seeing all the fawns. SO cute!
14. I’ve also seen more box turtles since living here than I’ve seen in my combined years—and as a result, helped many safely cross the road (sometimes two a day!). It’s prompted me to study up a bit on these doofers.
15. One last thing. My husband was worried about how a former bona fide big city girl was going to do in such a remote location, because country woods living is fairly remote (although I can get to that fried chicken in about ten minutes, and even greater civilization in about twenty or more, so I’m sitting pretty). I wasn’t concerned—I’ve been heading this direction since leaving the big city. I can report I fully embrace it now that I’m here. I’m overjoyed to have lived in such diverse places from big cities, to historic cities, to small towns, to the wooded countryside. I believe humans were meant to be ensconced in nature. The wonder and beauty of it alone resets your cells on a daily basis and reminds us of our place in the world. I’ve told a few people my cells are recalibrating since I got here—it’s the closest I can come to describing it. My biggest takeaway is how important it is for all of us to change our venue from time to time so we can change our perspective and allow it to broaden. You can change things up through moving (preferably not just down the street or across town) and traveling (so many options!). In hindsight, I’m sorry I stayed so long in one place. But with new foresight, I hope I keep nurturing this insight.
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A collection of columns, articles and general a-musings.