Disclosure: This will be long.
Life in the country was a mixed bag.
I’d peer out the giant windows of our house, watching my horses move from one patch of shade to another as the unrelenting sun moved slowly across the summer sky. Occasionally they’d leave the shade of the giant oak trees to soak their hooves in the pond, their necks damp with sweat, their tails switching to and fro as deer flies hovered overhead.
The pasture was incredibly green…so green, it was almost hard to look at. I’d stare into the pasture – my back yard – and get overwhelmed by the intensity of the colors. It was beautiful.
And then, as Charles and I settled in to watch TV later that night, a baby snake would slither out under the television and stare at us.
Umm, holy crap, what?! Yeah…a snake in the house. Not once, not twice, but three times that I can remember.
But then it would turn to fall. And the leaves would start to fall from the dark branches of the giant oak trees around our house, carpeting the ground, and making a satisfying crunchy noise as I walked over them. The horses would show signs of fuzz on their bellies as their winter coats started to grow, and the occasional dip in weather meant they were frisky and full of life, and so fun to watch as they galloped across the pasture, their hooves pounding out a comforting rhythm on the packed dirt as they ran.
It was the best time of year, for sure!
And then, as I tucked my son into bed one night, a scorpion scuttled across the top of his round little fifteen-month-old head.
Uhh, WTF?! A scorpion on my toddler’s head? TRUE STORY. And then Charles and I both got stung by scorpions – IN OUR BED. And then I had one fall from a light fixture onto my head – not once, but twice – IN THE SHOWER. And then I found one STILL ALIVE in my dryer after I had washed and dried a load of laundry. And the list of scorpion sightings goes on.
But then winter came! And it was cold, and all the bugs died and the snakes went into hiding (probably in our closet, but that’s another story) and the June bugs stopped crashing into our windows and the cicadas stopped falling from the trees at my feet. And it was good.
It snowed, and there is nothing more stunning than an endless expanse of snow glistening under a sunrise. And when you live in the middle of nowhere, there are no busy roads to interfere with your silence. And you can stand outside and listen to the typical sounds of your daily existence muffled by six inches of snow and teach your toddler how to build a snowman in his very own winter wonderland and feel like the luckiest person alive.
And then your power goes out for days and the roads are frozen and you’re isolated and even though you have tons of family nearby you’re still stuck in a house with no power with a toddler for days and have to go out to the barn at God-awful times in God-awful temperatures to chip ice away from water buckets and when the ice is completely frozen you have to haul buckets of water from your house to the barn in a wagon and it splashes everywhere and you want to cry and then you just make your husband do it all for you.
But then it’s Spring! Glorious spring!
Grass starts poking up from the dirt, and I when I rub the horses’ backs with a gloved hand (it’s still chilly out!), I notice that my fingers are covered in clumps of hair, which can only mean they are shedding out for the upcoming summer. The sun feels stronger, the light changes, and I watch with a warm feeling in my heart as my old horse starts spending his afternoons sprawled out in the sun in a soft patch of dirt.
And then one night it rains and we catch six spiders and two worms in our bedroom as we are getting ready for bed. In about a period of ten minutes. IN OUR BEDROOM.
And that was life in the country. A constant balancing act of awesome experiences and beautiful acts of nature and the less-than-welcome consequences that are the results of…well, nature.
In the end, we closed up shop and moved to the ‘burbs. Traded in our fifteen acres with centuries-old oak trees and a long dirt driveway for a teeny sliver of land and a sparkly new house tucked neatly between two nearly identical homes (truly…they all look the same). And I’m cool with this! I like it, even.
After years of struggling to keep up with all that land, a lawn that we can afford to pay someone else to mow is kind of awesome. After living twenty minutes away from the nearest grocery store, having a Starbucks and a Target down the road is nothing short of amazing. After living in an area without other children, being on a street full of kids the same ages as our own children is exactly what we had dreamed of. You get the idea.
But it’s not that simple. I miss the country. It’s amazing how being away for a couple years makes one forget all the awful bug stories…they even seem funny to me now, somehow.
And one thing I really missed? My pet donkeys.
Life in the country meant that I could have pet donkeys. Pet donkeys! A dream come true for a girl like me.
I didn’t plan on being a donkey owner, but I never planned on not being a donkey owner, either. Have you seen a miniature donkey before? They. Are. Adorable. And so when Charles’ aunt called from the road one day, saying, “I am pulling a horse trailer with a horse, a goat, and a donkey and they need a place to stay,” I was like, “YES! BRING THEM TO ME.”
When we moved from the country (which, for the record, I know happened, but can barely recall – I was quitting my job of four years, moving to a new town, and having a baby…all pretty much at the same time), we left the donkeys with the new homeowners. They donkeys were happy, the people living there wanted them, I was practically in labor as we signed papers for the house…I was fine with them staying there.
A couple of weeks ago, we learned that the current residents were moving and needed to re-home the donkeys. And just a few days later, we were headed to our old house, trailer in tow, to pick up our donkeys.
You know how everything in life seems to be cyclical? Well, we saw the story of the donkeys coming full circle as we pulled the trailer full of donkeys into Charles’ aunt’s property and unloaded them into her barn (thanks Aunt Debbie! We love you Aunt Debbie! The donkeys make GREAT alarm clocks, don’t they? And they never run out of batteries and don’t even need to be plugged in, woohoo!).
After two years (almost to the day), they were reunited with my horse, Seamus. And yes…they absolutely did remember each other!
The tale of the donkeys return is one I am excited to share. I hope that I’ll have lots more donkey stories in the future, and I hope that my kids will love them as I do.
Also? I hope you like donkey pictures. Because oh boy…I am gonna get spammy with the donkey pics.
Meet Harry and Donkey.
If you’d like to read about the time I took the donkeys to a donkey show (who does that?! I do.), you can find Part One here and Part Two here (but please pardon the wonky formatting…those posts were written on Blogger and I haven’t had a chance to update).
Here’s to The Donkeys!