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I whisked away to rural Ben Wheeler, Texas—with a collector’s tin of my herbal teas (mint and chai spice), two books (The Host and The Women in the Castle), and luggage—for Thanksgiving.
The last and first time I’d been out to Mimi’s new farm was Shane’s wedding, when I’d stayed for no more than a few days. This time, I intended to make the most of my stay by first reading the 300 remaining pages of The Host, then starting on my backup book. Instead, I wound up working to tame two miniature baby paint donkeys and mucking stalls.
Mucking is as “eh” as it sounds, but in the cold, the manure has had time to harden, so it doesn’t sour, thus it doesn’t smell so bad and is actually manageable, i.e. not as “eh” as it could be. Mimi’s been behind forever now on mucking their stalls, but I helped her catch up by mucking the three paint stalls so it’s more manageable on a daily basis—think kitty litter boxes and cleaning out the poops on a regular basis; it’s like that, just…bigger, and no kitty litter. I literally got shit on my shoes.
(Side note: I feel quite smug, having worked “poop” into a post on my blog and not even being a mommy blog. I’m not sure many other bloggers can do that unless they’re, like, primarily farm bloggers.)
The stalls definitely look better mucked, rather than left to become a hotbed for illness.
I had just one cup of peppermint tea, so next time I’m not going to bring the entire tin so I can devote that space to something else. I spent more time drinking their water, which is well water and delicious. I’ll also bring my boots, which I didn’t bring this time because I didn’t want to lug around a bag with an extra set of shoes; next time, I’ll wear my boots and those will be the only pair of shoes I bring. Manure gets into the nooks and crannies of regular tennis shoes, and it is not going to be fun trying to clean those out. I got all I could out while at the farm, to no avail.
Nature vs. Humans
There was a beautiful scene wherein the mother hen was teaching one of her babies how to forage for food, and the wind blew and the leaves waved. Everything was beautiful, like watching a real life movie play out. The hen had decided I was a safe enough distance from her babies to not be a threat, her and her three chicks safe in the donkey lot, separated from the yard by a fence I was not about to climb over (I’m too old for that, ya’ll). A dog yapped. The sound of a bomb flooded the clear sky; birds flew over head. Everything was still, at the same time frantic.
I hate hunting season.
That was like the catalyst to ruining my nature walks and photos of beautiful scenery. I’m easily startled, and the gunfire was never regular. I expected to go and watch some deer, but all the deer were hidden away because of hunting season. Or maybe it was just stupid people, rapid firing a gun because they were in the middle of nowhere and decided they could do as they pleased because they were in the middle of nowhere.
So, you know what I did?
I ran that gator, this miniature truck-like contraption that takes gas and sounds like a lawnmower, all along the private road for my pictures, making sure to be as loud as their stupid guns, so I could warn those deer, because maybe then they’d quit.
And they soon did, so.
Obviously, Janening it up did everyone some good Sunday. 👌
Middle of nowhere
I stood in the middle of an active road, multiple times. I prefer the pictures I took in my autumn pattern leggings more than those taken in the Tigger leggings, though all of them turned out great regardless of what I was wearing. Every two photos, I had to run off the road because a car was coming. I’m certain I made it into some people’s stories about the crazy girl who was standing in the middle of the road with her phone, but whatever. I took an anti-anxiety pill before going out there, just in case I got too nervous, so I would be able to take photos regardless of my nerves!
There is something liberating about standing in the middle of the road, especially when cars are coming by. This thing that is, by nature, safe, but dangerous because of humans wasn’t, once I was in the middle of it. I’ve been in the middle of the road before metaphorically, ready to end my life. Yet, standing in the middle of the road with cars approaching a limited amount of time to run out of the way each time made me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt—and happy to be such.
I’m not recommending anyone go out into the middle of the road and get themselves killed or anything—I feel like I have to disclose this in the event someone does that and does die. I’m just saying that it was liberating for me. I think it helped my mental health, in that it was as much of a thrill as that of a roller coaster, but it was not as costly as a roller coaster. I stepped onto a road deemed dangerous by society. I wouldn’t have been allowed to do that before I was Jane in mind, when I was a terrified little girl.
Rather than making me want to do it all the time—take risks—it encouraged me to live my life. It reprimanded me, at the same time rewarding me.
- It was great to go there for Thanksgiving rather than stay in the city. The rural environment is more lax, inline with my personality, and not into dressing to impress and full of politically-charged table discussions.
- I got to hear more about my great grandmother’s relationship with Bonnie Parker (the Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde) and fill in a few gaps to the story. The FBI racked the crimes up and the media hyped it up, so a lot of the history surrounding it is untold, in that they’re not guilty of everything they were said to. Their crimes were made out to be worse than what actually went down. We lost the pictures; they probably got trashed, because the media annoys the crap out of you if you know anything about shit like that.
- I’m going again in December, though I don’t yet know when. 🤷
- We went thrift shopping at the Goodwill in Canton, and I got five new pieces of clothing and a 99-cent book.
- The only things I super missed on this trip was a notebook and pen. I had the itch to write so much (posts these days, mostly), but my phone kept dying from roaming for service (I finally put it on airplane mode) and wasn’t viable; I wanted to write with my hands, on paper, with a gel ink pen so the words would glide onto the page—a poetic dream I could not fulfill.