Tag Archives: snakes

Faking It as a Country Girl

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10 years ago I did something unbelievable; so amazing in fact, that my friends and family were in awe (or, shock was it?).   I moved, with my husband and two boys, from the city to my husband’s hometown in rural mid-west Missouri (for how city girl met country boy go here).

Now, I know what you are thinking: California girl moving to the country – train wreck about to happen. Well, sometimes, it felt that way.  In truth, there were adjustments to make.

First off, in an attempt to minimize my transition trauma, we chose a house in “town” as opposed to one smack dab in the middle of a farm – like, without neighbors…and lots of snakes. However, while it is true that in “town” I can actually see my neighbor’s house, it is also a fact that “town” is basically a one block main street with some off-shooting streets, not even enough inhabitants to fill up an AMC Movie Theatre (unless you include the animals and livestock), and to get a decent work-out, you must run/walk/bike the circumference of the “town” numerous times.

However, in addition to learning to survive a rural mid-west winter (A California Girl’s Guide here), I have acquired knowledge of immense use to making it faking it as a country girl.

1.  Anywhere in town, always leave your keys in your unlocked vehicleThis is very important, because you never know when someone will need to quickly jump into your vehicle to move it out of the way of a passing farm apparatus, help an elderly person needing your parking space, or borrow it for some quick, random errand.  If all goes well, your car will be in the same location when you go to retrieve it.  If not, a few phones calls (in my case, usually to car-swapping brother-in-law) will quickly establish a location and alternate transportation if needed.

2.  Don’t be fooled, in the country the snakes live in town too. In fact, they enjoy flaunting this fact by dropping out of trees in front of your house guests, sunning themselves outside your kitchen window, slithering through your baseball pick-up games, or hibernating in your domicile.  It is best to pretend you are copacetic with co-habitation and hope they are eating rodents and not your baby birds.

3. If you run out of or forget an item at a store, seek help. “Running” to the store to get a needed item is just not an option, the store might as well be a billion miles away (Which explains why savvy country dwellers have pantries the size of Mt. Rushmore).  Therefore, if you need an item such as eggs, milk, spices, butter, canned corn, etc…appeal to a neighbor.  If you require items such as: Whole Wheat flour, tofu, tempe, organic beans, or turkey bacon…make spaghetti.

4. Learn how to follow road directions.  I know what you are thinking…how dumb can you be if you can’t follow directions. But trust me; survival depends on a vast amount of UN-documented knowledge.  Here is generally how my first direction experience went:

Me: “How do I get to xyz?”

Direction Giver Guy/Girl (DGG): “Drive straight out of town then turn left at the Smith house” 

Me:“Who are the Smiths?” 

DGG: “The Smiths are the people who used to live in that house next to the barn where John Chaney kept his horse named Champ”.

Me:“Oh”.

DGG: “Then, take a right onto Boat Road” 

Me: “So, there will be a road sign?” 

DGG: “No, that is not the actual name” 

Me: “Huh?” 

DGG: “It is called that because of a building that looks like a boat”

Me: “So, I will see this building that looks like a boat and know when to turn?”

DGG: “No, the building was torn down several years ago.” 

Me: “Oh”.

DGG: “Then, when you see the black bull standing in the pasture..” 

Me: “You mean, like with horns?”

DGG: “Yeah – turn right at the sharp corner where Duke Dudley wrecked his truck and there you are.”  

Me: “Where?”

DGG:  “At the chicken coup with the rooster weather vane.”

Me: “Oh”…

And as a country Mom, I have learned to curtail the shock of watching my kids driving before their feet reached the pedals, wielding all manner of power tools and weapons of mass destruction, and requesting flying squirrels as pets. But, that is a story for another day.

In closing, if there is one key thing I have learned about rural life, it is this…

The good thing about living in a small town is,

When you don’t know what you are doing, that’s ok…

Everybody else does…

A California Girls Rural Winter Survival Guide

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Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For example, why do aliens only abduct sanity-challenged recluse people? What are artificial bacon bits really made of? And, how does a born and bred California girl end up living in rural Missouri?  Rural Missouri, mind you, where roads have letters instead of names, directions are given in reference to so-and-so’s house – whether they still live there or not – and…it snows!

Well, in my case, I was either crazy or in love, or both.  Whatever the case, the predicament of surviving the winters became glaringly apparent upon the first snow; A feat which my California upbringing had just not prepared me for.  Therefore, for those of you who have found or may find yourself in a similar fix, allow me to share 5 of my hard learned survival tips.

1.  Be Prepared: If you are to survive in the harsh environment of cold, ice, and snow, you must have the proper tools. Following are, in my experience, the most important items.

  • Cat Box Pooper Scooper – Oh, sure, you will be told that having an ice scraper is what you need to clear off your car windshield every morning.  But, in my opinion, the everyday cat box pooper scooper makes much more sense to get the job done.  It is always handy, never gets taken by other family members for use and well, has multiple functional purposes (need I elaborate?).
  • Ugly Shoes – Trust me on this one.  Those peep toe pumps will sing a good song, but when push comes to shove (or rather ice comes to driveway) those pretty shoes will leave you flat on your behind.  The ugly shoes, however, will be your friend for life. They will keep you warm, be devoted to your happiness, and never let you go down looking like a flapping dodo (bird, that is).
  • Hair Dryer – You would be surprised how often a good blast of hot air will come in handy for various frozen things and/or body parts.
  • A Hammer – No real function, but it will make you feel like you belong – like one of the natives.

2.  Be Wary:  Never trust ice – it is the enemy and yes, it is out to get you.  It will freeze your pipes as soon as you stop dripping them in order to head to the mall.  It will freeze the Frappuccino you left in the car overnight. And, if you have a change of heart (i.e. panic attack) about driving on it, it will promptly and not very graciously, introduce you to the side road ditch.

3.  Be Audacious:  When that fluffy white stuff starts pouring out of the sky, get in your car and just go for it.  And when I say, ‘go for it’, I mean, when your husband tells you to drive fast to get over snow drifts growing in the road – DO IT! Otherwise you might find yourself stuck on top of one of those pretty drifts like a whale bellied up on the beach (which is, fyi, not near as much fun as bellying up to the bar). And, it may take every relative and friend within a 20 mile radius to come and dig you off.

4.  Be Mindful:  As in all things, there are pitfalls to watch out for during the long winter season.

  • Do NOT discover online shopping.
  • Do NOT, under any circumstances, decide the inside of your house needs to be painted all colors of the rainbow. (You may not be fortunate for to spring to arrive moments before project commencement).
  • Do NOT try to eat your weight in chocolate.

However, DO, have as many snowball fights as possible, roast marshmallows over a candle, and treat yourself to every  ‘icure come spring.

5.  Be Canny: Sooner or later you will be faced with a suspicious random occurrence that can only be experienced in the rural wilds of winter.  Therefore, when you, for example, find a several foot long shed snake skin in a storage area behind your bed where said snake clearly hibernated the winter with you, don’t, whatever you do, tell your snakephobic husband.

Goodbye and Good luck.