On Country Life

I was born and raised in Georgia living within a city,
Grew up with heavy traffic, constant noise, nighttime lights,
Breathing urban air that was often polluted, more's the pity.
I had always heard that fresh air, quiet, and dark nights
Were some of the best things about country life.
Well, years ago I met in Louisiana the country girl who eventually became my wife.
Linda's folks lived in a tiny rural community, Hico was its name,
Raising chickens by the tens of thousands for their livelihood.
Time came for her parents to size me up and for me to do the same.
This entailed my very first trip to their home in the woods.
An hour on interstate, followed by country roads for at least 40 miles, I know.
Along the way we approached five extremely long rectangular houses all in a row.
"Holy cow" said I, "What is that horrible smell?"
"Why it's just ammonia in poop from 200,000 chickens, can't you tell?"
Passing these chicken houses, that aroma was replaced by another even worse.
"Now what? That has to be the stench of something dead."
"In this hot weather chickens may die from heat and thirst,
They don't get buried, just dumped in the woods instead."
Finally, after those terrible smells abated, I saw on the side of the road
Someone's cat, black with white on its back, had been run over flat.
Skunk! Upon being hit it obviously had sprayed its entire pungent load.
Fresh country air indeed! I was beginning to see the fallacy in that.
As we finally neared her parents' house, Linda casually said "Oh, by the way
A few of my relatives may be there to meet you, only a short time they'll stay."
In the front yard were at least a dozen cars and pickup trucks.
Turned out that day I met 47 sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts.
Six hours later I escaped outside, whereupon I was surrounded by a herd of chickens and ducks.
They soon left since I didn't feed them, or maybe because I was standing in a bed of fire ants.
Up my legs they had crawled, prompting me to hurriedly pull off my pants.
Up drove one surprised lady ( who has since become my favorite among all the aunts.)
"Ants" I explained, "Stood in them when I came out to enjoy the quiet."
"Quiet?" she said with a smile, "To me it sounds like a riot."
Frogs were croaking, crickets were chirping, owls hooting, cows mooing,
What a din! So much for the quiet of a country night!
Before long we were headed home, along pitch black roads fairly flying,
"Better slow down. Never know what may be in the road ahead."- Boy, was she ever right!
A blur of motion ran before the car and one rabbit was hit.
Linda was still bemoaning its demise when an armadillo was next to go.
Maybe for once she was right and I should drive slow,
Because these narrow, dark country roads were really not fit
For city-style drivers like me... All at once in the roadway just ahead
Two enormous deer were running, barely escaping from being struck dead.
Oh, what a great relief when we made it back to interstate, headed home.
The truth this city boy had learned that day about country life could fill a tome.

Harry Edward Gilleland      09.02.01    printer friendly