When my son and I moved to Spirit Creek we left a house located in an old part of the city. Built in 1884, the neighborhood had evolved around it. The house was three short blocks from a major hospital and regional medical center. It was about six blocks from the police station, and two blocks from a crumbling, crack infested neighborhood. There were sirens all the time screaming at speed past either end of the block. I grew to detest my neighbors whose houses were within feet of mine. Even when something was chained down, crackheads managed to steal from me. The crazy neighbor directly across the street, high on powerful drugs after surgery, admitted he spied on me with binoculars. Sometimes the children's toys disappeared in broad daylight. When I bought that home, I had no idea of the forces that would eventually ruin all possible enjoyment of living in that wonderful old house, on the attractive tree-lined old street.
It has been a dozen years since I fled that horrible place, leaving behind the hateful neighbors, the constant noise, random gun shots, thieving human beings, and the resident angry ghost that tormented my little boy. Needless to say, there has never been a single moment of regret since I left that place. As the seasons wheel past here, I have only grown to love more this sheltered spot on the earth.
After the bitterly cold temperatures, howling winds and abundant snow of these deep winter days, the mild temperatures and humid atmosphere just delivered on mighty winds are most welcome. When I wake in the night, it is my pleasure to slip outside with no other purpose than to listen to the mighty stillness surrounding me here in the prairie.
No matter how quietly I leave the house, the Good Dog Duke hears and comes to accompany me. If all I do is simply stand still beneath the bare prairie trees graceful against the ancient night sky, Duke simply waits, too. He faces away, watching and dutiful. No human being would ever be able to catch me unaware. No rabbit, skunk, opossum, bob cat, coyote - no living creature would be able to get within thirty yards of me unannounced. In fact, turtles making their slow determined trek through the yard receive Duke's alarm barking, at close quarters, until they have made their way out of his red alert zone. Sadly, last summer a large bull frog met a bad end when he hopped too closely to me. I tried to stop Duke, but either fresh frog is too delicious a delicacy, or my loud and urgent screeching and arm waving indicated to Duke the frog was a deadly threat.
Yet, things are far from perfect here. It is a small, humble, disintegrating house. The road is dusty always except for 24 hours after a hard rain, or packed under ice and snow. There are snakes in the warm weather. Mosquitoes. Ticks. People who throw their empty beer cans along my road. Honey locust trees and red junipers assaulting my pasture and fence rows. Predators eat my chickens. The coyotes mournful howling strikes a melancholy chord in my heart, and the owls calling eerily along the creek in the silent winter nights remind me of ghosts and frightening spirits that exist in certain places.
In the twelve years here, I have heard sirens twice - the unfortunate heralds of car crashes. There are gun shots, but not often and only during hunting season. There has been evidence abandoned along the roadside of mobile meth labs a time or two. The most pesky human visitors have been Jehovah's Witnesses. Their efforts to redeem my soul culminated one Saturday morning with three different vehicles in my drive at the same time. Enough! I announced they were most welcome to visit as my friends, to come for a cup of tea, but they could no longer speak to me regarding their spiritual beliefs as I respectfully disagree. Not a single Jehovah's Witness has come to my home since. None of their literature has been placed in my door or in my mailbox. I must be on the list of the damned now, thank God. Duke, the Good Dog, committed his only truly unforgivable transgression that Saturday morning, happily jumping into the van with the Witnesses, enthusiastically supporting their ministry at Spirit Creek. I gave him the evil eye, but forgave him because there were two little girls in the back seat of the van. I assumed it was the children he was so happy about and not the message.
Spirit Creek is the best place to live and I hope to never again, ever, live in a town. On a beautiful winter night like tonight, I am most grateful for my humble home, far from the craziness.