i like to say i grew up in the faux-country. we were only a hop skip and a jump from town, and there were many houses across the street that had their half acre or acre parcels, none of which compared to the 80 acres our house stood on. we had the old, broken down farmhouse. a big white barn, a white 2-story garage, a pumphouse, the field, the pasture, the acres of lawn to mow (for years, my dad had an old farmall that would cut mowing time drastically).
we didn’t plant. we didn’t own animals. we barely kept a garden. but we did grow pine trees. we rented out the fields to farmers who would use it. family or renters pastured their sheep, horses, cows in the pasture. we weren’t sheltered from country life, but we weren’t immersed in it. for that, we would have to drive the mile and a half down the road to my aunt and uncle’s farm.
we grew pines, and we had a lot of space to run around during the summertime. giant oaks dotted the yard. every spring, the crabapple tree outside the kitchen window would burst into pink blooms. we wandered through the pasture to the creek, or out to the edge of the field, wondering if we really WOULD get lost in the cornfield. (what a crock; follow the rows and you’ll come out eventually.)
the end of the day during summertime was the worst. when bedtime rolled around, it was still a little light out. the crank-out windows were wide open in the bedroom, and we could hear the yells and screams of the neighbor kids – all of whom were older – filtering into the bedroom while we lay there, wondering why god is so cruel as to create bedtimes during the summer months.
of course i could never sleep right away and instead propped myself up at the window overlooking the driveway, pumphouse, and pasture. the fireflies lit up at the edge of the pasture while the semis rolled over the rumble strips on the freeway a quarter mile away, the bass line to the neighbors’ playful murmur and crickets’ evening song.