Before I moved to Spiritcreek I lived in the inner city of Topeka. My former house had been built in 1885 and the capital city of Kansas had grown around it. It was situated a few blocks from the police station and a few blocks from a major hospital. Sirens and traffic noise were simply part of the aural landscape and eventually I tuned them out.
Though it was a wonderful old house, the impossibly close proximity to my neighbors, and their craziness, eventually caused me to live with all the blinds closed. The crazy neighbor across the street, high on drugs after toe amputations, admitted to me that he had been spying on me with binoculars since the day I moved in. (I think he meant it as a compliment!) He wore a gun holstered on his hip when he mowed his yard. I do not know why.
Another crazy neighbor poisoned my cat by spraying that gentle, loving creature with herbicide, according to her hateful little snot of a granddaughter. I assume that also explains why my dog died a sudden and unexpected death of liver failure the first month after I moved to the farm.
A third crazy neighbor continually encouraged his tenants to park in my drive way, and parked his junk trucks without permission in my back yard. This same nut went ballistic when my son and another neighborhood child drew chalk pictures on his porch - easily washed off - no damage whatsoever. Amazingly enough, he berated me for my son having no respect for other's property.
The happiness and sense of accomplishment for buying my first house eventually turned into a painful, impossible existence. I was eventually living such an unnaturally barricaded life in my own home that I did not even know when a major drug raid happened across the street one evening. I read about it the next morning in the newspaper and was shocked when I realized it had taken place at 8 pm the night before directly across the street. I could have been shot as I sat watching Sienfeld!
It was a miracle when I found the little house built in the bend of the creek, far out of Topeka, with plenty of healthy space between neighbors. The silence of the prairie has been a healing balm to my battered spirit. In the fourteen years I have lived here, I have heard a siren twice. In the other place, 14 sirens in twenty four hours was a slow day.
I could list another fifty reasons why the move out of the city was sorely needed and long past due but it honestly no longer matters. I recall the distinct pleasure I experienced driving on the gravel road toward my new home and noticing the grass infringing into the edge of the road, naturally attempting to reclaim the scarred earth. No concrete. No unnatural light. No insane and unreasonable neighbors. Peace and quiet and blessed by the sounds of rain and wind.
Now when I come home, after the stuffy hotel rooms, the endless concrete, heat and traffic, the hundreds of highway miles, I greet my dark country road with a weary heart, thankful to live where the starlight can still cast a shadow, where the grass grows through the gravel.
|Winter Sunrise Over Ginger's Pasture|