The final mile to our house is off the farm road and halfway down a quiet and secluded unpaved county road. To add to the picturesque beauty of it all, it’s a narrow one lane with overarching trees from either fence line forming a kind of tunnel most of the way. If you meet anyone coming at you, somebody’s going to have to pull over. We all know the wide spots and the various entry drives, so there isn’t much chance of fiery head on collisions. However, if you don’t know the road, things can get a little tricky.
Every season in the country brings some sort of pestilence. One year it was little bitty black gnats. Another time came a biblical affliction of crickets. Lately there have been the innocent looking lady bugs. Lady bugs aren’t so innocent when they come by the billions and fall, crawl or buzz out of every light fixture, crack and crevice. The country is a breeding ground for seasonal plagues. The worst plague of all is the deer hunter. Most folks living out in the outback know what I’m talking about and I blush to think that back in my younger days when I lived in the big city, I was one of them. Now that it’s deer season, the plague is on.
I would estimate there are approximately 15 regular year round denizens of the neighborhood. We all know each other. We know each other’s cars and trucks and can even be out on the porch and tell who is passing by without seeing them just by the sound of their vehicle. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because it’s quiet on the surface out here, we don’t know what is happening. Each and everybody makes mental note of who went by when, and who was with them, and can generally tell what they were up to by the time of day. It gives us something to talk about over supper. It’s all part of living out here. But Lord deliver us from the deer hunters!
They come down early to fix up their stands and camps and plant their rye grass and fill their feeders. We know when they are around and so do the deer. At the peak of the pre-season, they go hurtling past out on the dirt road, raising dust to coat the tops of tall tall trees. Typically, they are bearded, dressed head to toe in camouflage, driving camouflaged 4wheelers or other utility vehicles. There will be guns and knives strapped everywhere and the only approved speed is wide open. It would seem a lot of money was wasted on camouflage when you can hear them coming a mile away and the dust doesn’t settle for twenty minutes afterwards. We endure the onslaught.
So a local is easing down the lane towards her house, just your typical farm wife, home from shopping in the big city. Around a blind corner comes a couple of aspiring dirt track racers. They slam on the brakes and skid sideways to avoid a head on collision. After the dust settles somewhat, she rolls down the window and speaks to the lads, telling them in no uncertain terms to slow their roll, literally. The young men give her some lip, rather incredulous that ‘civilian’ types are this far out in the wilderness, and with the gall to wag their finger at a couple of manly men armed to the teeth with guns and camouflage. The expression on the otherwise smiling, sweet little grandmother face hardens. Her eyes narrow. She raises an eyebrow and lets the boys have it with both barrels, verbally. They inform her of the approved speed limits on county roads. She is having none of it. No matter the approved straightaway speed, you don’t go around blind corners and doglegs without slowing down to look and listen for approaching traffic. Still, the boys act sullen, as if they were too grown up to be lectured by some crazy lady out in the middle of nowhere. The lady nods at them and raises her window to head off. The boy do the same, but before her window is up and they disappear into a cloud of dust, she hears one say: “What’s wrong with these people? That’s the third one who has flagged us down! Don’t they know this is a public road?”
This is a true story. I have condensed it somewhat to spare everyone undue grief or embarrass those who might recognize themselves. Try to remember that roads like ours are indeed public and you are likely to encounter other public type persons on such thoroughfares. Roads, even the unpaved, are not racetracks or stunt venues for your private amusement. Slow your roll and we all live long and prosper. Near as I can tell.