Country living is more than a fairy tale

Frank CagleFrank Talk

Living in the country is often an adventure. When you live away from the usual amenities you have to be prepared and a bit more self-reliant.

I was cooking breakfast one morning when my 5-year-old grandson came into the kitchen and asked “Granddaddy, what do you do if there’s a snake in your bathroom?” This was not a riddle I had heard before so I said, I don’t know, what do you do if you have a snake in your bathroom? He yelled “come look” and took off at a dead run. I turned off the stove and followed. Sure enough, there was a black snake coiled up behind the commode.

Frank Cagle

I put on a pair of work gloves and grabbed him mid-body and behind his head. He managed to bite into the glove but it didn’t break the skin. I went out on the porch and threw him over the fence into the pasture.

I’ve written before about the Coca-Cola commercial years ago with flower children standing on a hill singing an inspirational song about the joys of the simple life.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing,

in perfect harmony.

Grow apple trees and honey bees

and snow-white turtle doves.”

Words of inspiration until you get a farm. Then you learn that apples have worms, honey bees sting and you’d be amazed at what a covey of doves can do to the loft of your barn. But forget all that. It’s still a wonderful way to live and raise a family. A place where the grand kids can watch a deer grazing on the hillside in front of the house. Or a flock of wild turkeys working its way through the insect population in the lower pasture.

My 4-year-old granddaughter showed me a woolly-worm last week. She collects insects when she isn’t chasing toads. (Not frogs, granddaddy.) The woolly-worm was coal black all over. Uh oh. That means a bad winter in folk lore and according to my grandmother, Mama Cagle. But the Farmer’s Almanac says temperatures will be above normal. Who’s right?

I’m going with the woolly-worms because it’s better to make preparations and not need them than to be caught out. We just spent the last month or two watching people on television frantically preparing for hurricanes, buying out supplies of plywood and water. I don’t get it.

In East Tennessee we don’t get too concerned about earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes. But if you live out in the country you stay prepared for heavy snow, extreme cold and power outages. I have milk jugs full of water in the well house suitable for flushing toilets. A couple of cases of bottled water for drinking and cooking. I keep at least a rick of oak firewood for the fireplaces. Charcoal for the grill. A generator. We once went a week without power after a blizzard back in the 1990s, but we were cozy and we made a quilt bed in front of the fireplace and read stories by candlelight.

If you lived on the Atlantic Coast or on the Gulf of Mexico wouldn’t you suspect that at some point you might experience bad weather, flooding and a massive power outage? Wouldn’t you have supplies and plywood at hand rather than join the mob down at the shopping center? Have some sandbags? Wouldn’t you have a Lowe’s generator in your basement already?

But when you look around the country by comparison Mother Nature is generally kind to us. Texas, Oklahoma and the Plains in general are plagued by killer tornadoes. The Upper Midwest suffers through brutally cold weather. California has earthquakes. There was a time when we could rule out wildfires, regardless of the fact that we have almost a million acres of timber in the forests that cover the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Until the park service decided not to put out a fire that would grow to devour Gatlinburg.

I find it serendipitous that the Smoky Mountains block hurricanes, winter has about six week a year of really cold weather and our up and down terrain prevents tornadoes from getting traction.

That allows us the luxury to get along fine with Mother Nature, except when we freak out when two inches of snow paralyzes the region. A source of some amusement to immigrants from up north, like my Connecticut native daughter-in-law.

About damn time? The Veterans Administration has notified us that the veterans hospital in Johnson City and various medical clinics will be smoke-free as of today. Really? Isn’t it about time they ban smoking at hospitals for God’s sake? The letter says “you are strongly encouraged to leave all smoking materials at home to reduce the risk of ignition near oxygen or other flammable gases used in our facilities.” How about leaving them alone because they can KILL YOU.

No wrongdoing: Pundits are falling all over themselves to say that Joe Biden didn’t do anything wrong in this Ukrainian mess that has President Trump facing impeachment. I’m sure Biden didn’t do anything wrong. But out here in flyover country we do find it odd that a Ukrainian gas company decided to go to America and find a recovering dope addict and put him on the company board and pay him $50,000 a month. That Hunter Biden’s father was the vice-president is purely coincidental. While the Democrats are investigating Trump, they may wind up also damaging the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

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