I was born in Louisville and after a short stint in Detroit, moved to small-town Oklahoma, where I spent my childhood and teenaged years. We built a home on land that I still refer to as my Tara (Gone With the Wind reference — Sad that I think I need to explain that). I am a country girl and spent my early years’ summer days barefoot and shirtless running around my “neighborhood” (no such thing really in the country) with my best friend who lived up the street. We rode her horse Buttermilk bareback, and climbed onto her Aunt Wilma’s roof from the fence. We rode our bikes five miles into town for Sixlets and a Dr. Pepper, often stopping along the way at our teacher’s house for cookies. It had to be on the way there, because we pretty much always called fake collect from a pay phone so Mom would come pick us up in her truck and we wouldn’t have to pedal home.
My parents had grown up in the city, so moving into country life was a fulfilled dream for them. They tested out different animals — pigs, chickens, rabbits, cows, horses. I still hate live chickens to this day because I had the job of feeding them and pulling eggs, and occasionally cleaning the coop. UGH. Mean nasty little suckers, I have to say. I also learned not to name anything but dogs. Rabbits get eaten (by us for dinner), and even outdoor cats rarely out live their nine lives in the country.
My parents settled on horses and cows. Spring was always my favorite as calfs and foals were wobbling around the pasture. I learned to drive a tractor before I did a car, and actually loved brush-hogging the pasture, wearing my cut-offs and a bikini top, with my Sony Walkman tucked in my seat. I loved my childhood.
I call my childhood home my Tara, because we still visit often, and I always suck in a deep breath of country air and feel my nerve endings vibrating more slowly. I feel rejuvenated by kicking off my shoes, although I can no longer run across the gravel drive without flinching. I love that my kids have fished in the ponds, and roamed the land as I did when I was a kid. I wish there were still hornytoads to catch. I am still amazed at HOW dark it is in the country and how clear the skies are. Nothing like seeing God’s power in the country skies — sunsets, billowing clouds, lightning, the Milky Way. Amazing.
I married a country guy as well, who I had started dating my senior year in high school. And while we both loved how and where we were raised, we have lived near cities ever since.
But we can still smell rain before it comes.