Through the Fence 1-4-10
My life path diverged from my older sister about 10 years ago when my family moved to the country. Even though my sister and I were raised on a ranch, it was like we lived in a separate world – “the pampered princess bubble.” Other than occasionally riding horses or working in our large family garden, we could have been living in town.
During these last 10 years, I have raised chickens, bottle-fed goats and calves, trapped murderous raccoons that were killing my chickens, shot rattlesnakes in the barn, bathed outside in a plastic kiddy pool0 when our well pump went out, and home schooled my children miles away from the nearest town. I have learned first hand about animal births, as well as their suffering and death. Basically I have become a much tougher person than I ever dreamed possible.
My sister, on the other hand has left behind her rural roots. After years of living in Austin, she had become “citified.” Most of her knowledge of wild and domestic animals has come vicariously through my personal experiences. Most of the events I relay to her are completely mystifying. She marvels at the way I have adapted to the country lifestyle.
She is constantly making reference to us “country people” as if we are a different species. She has observed with awe the way country folks wave at everyone, the fact that many have two first names such as Billy Bob or Darrell Wayne, or a redneck nickname like Bubba. Even though it seems foreign to her uptown ways, I think she really likes it out here.
My city-girl sis had the rare experience of getting “up close and personal” one night with a real live animal right there in her home in the middle of town. She was living alone in an upscale suburban neighborhood at the time. She had left the door open to bring in several bags of groceries. Long after she’d gone to bed, but before she drifted off to sleep, she heard dishes clattering in the kitchen. Cautiously, she went to investigate.
That’s when she saw it. A large possum was perched on her fancy tile counter top helping itself to one of her newly-purchased, organic bananas. A bloodcurdling scream involuntarily escaped from her mouth as she stared at the creature in disbelief. The possum was shocked by her sudden screaming and sat up on his back legs and began hissing back at her. Being a sound and respectable, town-dwelling citizen, she immediately dialed 911.
“What is your emergency?” a chipper voice on the other end of the line asked.
“There’s a possum in my kitchen! Help me!” she said breathlessly.
The dispatcher quickly informed her that that was not a real emergency and did not fall within the scope of the fire or police departments’ responsibilities. After a lot of hysterical pleading for the animal control SWAT team, she finally prevailed. In a few minutes, a few officers arrived to capture the wild beast with a fishing net and a duffle bag. The invading creature was eventually hauled off in the back of squad car, to be relocated later in the wild.
Knowing my sister, she took a couple of Tylenol P.M.’s or drank a tall glass of red wine and tried to recover from the night’s drama. An event like that would have hardly raised an eyebrow at my house. We would have let the dog in, and she would have chased the possum down from the counter and out in the yard. Then the possum would have promptly rolled over and played dead, which would have given my husband plenty of time to retrieve his shotgun and dispatch the intruder permanently.
I think I’ve about convinced my sister to move to the country. When she does, she’ll have to realize that there are wild critters out here, and they are opportunistic. If she leaves a door or a gate open, they might just invade her personal space.
I’ve learned that the hard way. But I’d never trade the country life for the convenience of the city. If I ever get her out here, I bet she’ll agree. It will take some time for her, but she’ll adapt.
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