Foxes and Gangbangers…..

I have a friend who lives in a small town in the Oregon mountains. She had to suddenly leave a conversation we were having earlier today, to go help a friend who’s cows had gotten out of their fencing. I wished my friend “good cow hunting,” and dispatched her with a “yippie-kai-ay!”

As I hung up the phone, I realized just how much I missed living in the country, where I had 40 acres and some two dozen horses. Chester, the big Belgian stud, would periodically get a good snout-full of mare-in-heat, and crash through the many-times-over repaired fencing that lined his paddock by the barn, letting out all the horses corralled with him.

Those were the good days. The days when I could set aside the morning’s work, saddle up Guinness – my six-year-old roper, and head down the dirt road and over pastures filled with golden-gray, knee-high grass, in search of my wandering, fugitive herd of horses. Invariably they were always in Glenn’s yard eating his wife’s garden, or at the Johannson’s, trampling the manicured, landscaped front yard of their ranch house. My horses prompted a few phone calls now and again, but never ill-will, as my neighbors were all pretty good folk. They knew Chester, and always showed up to help drink some stout and repair the fence every time he broke loose.

Yep… those were the good ol’ days.

Divorce changes a lot. Obviously. My twin daughters had been raised the first nine years of their lives waking to morning mist filling our valley and horses waiting for breakfast oats, stomping at the fence that surrounded our yard.

One February we had three foals born in our eastern pasture, which ran up to our back yard fence. I remember sitting one afternoon for an hour in the tall grass just beyond the yard. My girls and I were patiently waiting for one of the babies to cautiously make his way – along with his mom – from the far side of the pasture. Slowly, he walked all the way up to my girls, who quietly held out extended hands. Then, very lightly, he nudged them with his nose, and shot back off to the far end of the pasture, kicking his heels all the way down. My girls were as giddy as the foal.

Today, I live in the City. We have a rather large house on an acre of land, filled with old growth trees. The closest we get to our old ranching days is the front yard and the back patio, filled with birdfeeders. As a result of the divorce I lost the ranch, but I gained my kids, who live with me all the time. Instead of hiking to the “back fourty” where there were woods and a small creek, I take my son and we hike a mile-and-a-half up the busy city street to meet my now 13-year-old girls at their school and walk home with them. The noise of horses running and turkey gobbling and coyote howling has been suplanted by city buses, garbage trucks and police sirens. Instead of foxes raiding the hen house, we have gang bangers smashing our car windows to get my $100 walkman off the front seat. At least in the country, I could shoot the fox.

The City can go to hell in its handbasket, for all I care. I’ll take the fox over the gang banger, any day. And I’d rather round up horses and cows than fight morning rush hour traffic.

Peace.

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