I grew up wandering several thousand acres of nearby property, the land of my family and neighbors, plus several miles of nearby streams. Sometimes, it was with fishing rod or firearm, sometimes with a few traps, and sometimes only a walking stick. Occasionally, I had a dog, friend, neighbor or relative along but, often, I was alone. For a few years, I’d sometimes be on horseback. I camped some, but never alone, though it wouldn’t have bothered me to do so. I also studied wild plants and dug a little ‘sang.
I did the same work as my father—farming our land (gardens, hay and beef cattle), custom farming (brush-hogging, mowing, raking and baling for fellow farmers), sawmilling, logging, raising Christmas trees, cutting and selling firewood, and selling tomato stakes and bean poles. The indoors was where you went when it was too dark, rainy or cold to be outside, if then. I was definitely a child (and adult) of the outdoors. Nearly 20 years after my father passed away, I began working at the factory. Some may call it self-pity when I say what I’ve said here before, that I began to die the day that I left the woods, but in some ways, it’s true.
Beginning several years ago, stiffness and pain in my back and legs began keeping me from even walking my land as I used to do. I’ve never seen what kind of a job that a friend of mine did when he timbered the place a few years ago, because I can’t walk the place and no longer have a tractor. Unless something changes, I’ll probably never again see any of our 98 acres beyond the bench below my ridge-top home. It’s a bitter pill for a guy like me to swallow.
And then there’s the Mighty Dachshund. She would be mostly an outside dog if I’d stay out there with her. She prefers the house only because my wife and I spend so much time in it, and she wants to be with us. When she gets cabin fever, she starts whining to go outside, as if she needs to pee. Often, though, she barely wets the ground and then commences sniffing anything she can. She’s a natural hunter, too. The first time she saw a squirrel, she ran him up a tree and kept looking until she saw him in the treetop. Then she gave me a look to say, “What are we going to do next, boss?” She’d run rabbits as fast as her stubby, but powerful, legs would carry her, also. But, of course, the missus doesn’t want me to bring home wild meat or let the dog off the leash. The poor pooch is probably as frustrated as I am.
So, here we are, two outdoor addicts, whose only fix (at least together) is to porch sit, or make an occasional patrol of the perimeter (of the half-acre lawn). And so that’s what we do whenever we can, especially the former. The recent autumn weather has been a godsend to us. The heat of summer is gone, and the cold winds of winter have yet to arrive. With the things that I try to do, and my wife’s daily plans, the pooch and I don’t get too many long stretches outside, rarely do we make it to an hour. We could have more time outside together, but the missus refuses to let me stake her near where I’m working. She’s afraid that a hawk or coyote will get to her before I can and hurt her, or that some aspect of my work will somehow hurt her (and then there’s the lonelies that the missus suffers from).
So we walk a little in the yard and porch sit a lot. We listen to and watch the birds. We hear the faraway traffic and trains when rain is in our future. We watch the cars go by on our country road, and she scents everything the breeze brings her way. There we sit, just two outdoor junkies feeding our addiction. © 2016