October is my favorite month. Leaves of orange, red, and gold. Pumpkins and mums on my front porch. The smell of woodsmoke in the crisp, country air. Watching our cattle run and buck around after being slothful and lethargic all summer.
I used to like October because it just so happens to be my birth month. These days, I don’t really want any reminders that I’m on the downhill slide of my 20’s. On the 24th, I’ll be 27. Egads! I’m not really welcoming my 30’s.
I’ve been working part-time for my mom in the city. She opened a salon and spa downtown. I go there so I can feel all big-city and swanky. I think it lends a good balance to the country bumpkin that is slowly coming out in me. I called my bank the other day and as I was ending the conversation, I told my banker, “Sounds good!” But, my husband started giggling after I said it because it came out like this, “Sooow (like the pig) nds gud!” I totally made it two syllables, if not three.
I don’t even care.
A couple of days ago, the farmer came in from getting all his morning work done. Our routine usually goes like this. We eat breakfast and then I ask him, “So, what are we going to do today?” Usually, his answer is, “Well, I thought we’d work in the yard” or “I need to chop some wood” or “I need to fix some fence.” So you can imagine my surprise when he stated, “We’re going for a hike.”
There’s a hill on a neighboring farm that he’s been wanting to take me to for a while. I enjoy being outside if it’s not blazing hot or frigidly cold, so I was game to go. Plus, there’s no better time for beautiful views than Fall. Especially in the Ozarks with our mini-mountains.
So, we get to the bottom of the hill and we start climbing. Climbing. Climbing. The farmer is carrying Peanut and trying to clear a path through thick brush and small trees.
I was outside of myself watching, as if in a movie, the branches he was moving springing back only to slap me upside the face or get stuck in the top-knot on my head. Underbrush snagging on my black yoga pants.
Only real hikers wear a hoodie, yoga pants, and Puma tennis shoes.
So, we get to the point where there’s some very large boulders and the underbrush has thinned out a little bit when I hear a growl. One of those low, guttural growls given as a warning that someone’s a little territorial. I stopped, but the farmer just kept on going so I convinced myself that I had made it all up in my mind. Until I heard it again and the farmer stopped short.
“Did you hear that?” he said.
I thought one of two things:
1. We had happened upon some bear cubs and Momma was NOT happy.
2. We were being stalked by a mountain lion. (A black one has been spotted a few times in these parts. I so badly want to see it, but I didn’t really want to see it that day.)
I turned to the farmer and said, “Great. Just great. And we brought nothing to protect ourselves with.”
At this point, he smirks and pulls out a large, folding utility knife. This is when I very sarcastically said, “Good plan, Krider.”
Meanwhile, I’m looking for a tree to climb up, all the while telling myself that doing this would be totally useless because both species in my little scenario are very adept at climbing. We continue to hear the growling and I say, “Maybe we should just keep moving.” He agreed. The rest of the hike was like a nice little stroll in the park for me because I was running on pure adrenaline.
The further we got from the “spot,” the calmer I grew. We finally reached our destination and this is what I saw.
Even the wrapped hay is pretty to me amidst the colorful backdrop. (Just another sign that the country life is starting to influence me.)
As well as the camera can capture it, it still pales in comparison to what it really looked like. A much better photographer that does panoramic views could have done it justice. You can see our house and the dairy barn in the distance.
We stayed up there for a little bit and decided to head back down. Hesitantly on my part, I might add. We never heard the growling again. The farmer convinced himself it was someone’s truck down in the hollow. I’m not so sure.
King of the Mountain
The scenery, however, was totally worth the hike.
Just not sure the possibility of being eaten was.