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The Education of a City Slicker

I’m a city slicker. I was born and raised in the city and have lived in major cities across Canada and in Europe. Now I live in the country. It was a fairly major transition for me with a considerable amount of culture shock involved.

Since moving from the city to the country, I’ve learned an awful lot of stuff that I didn’t know and I’d like to share some of my newly found wisdom with you. Here are the top twenty-five things I’ve learned since moving to the country.

  1. Bears are a lot bigger in person than they are in pictures and on National Geographic; especially when they’re rooting around in the garbage can in your garage. As a health and safety tip, ‘shoo’ isn’t all that effective at moving them along – especially when you’re yelling it at them from the upstairs bedroom window.
  2. Cell phones only work in the country when you’re standing on one foot in the kitchen waving a copy of the Farmer’s Almanac over your head with the other hand.
  3. Lawn tractors have no traction in mud or when you’re traveling sideways on an incline. They tend to either get stuck or tip over. Don’t ask how I know this; just take my word for it.
  4. There are a lot of very sharp, dangerous tools involved in maintaining an acre of property, most of which I know neither the purpose for nor the name of but I do enjoy the fact that they look pretty nice hanging on the wall in the garage. I’ve arranged them by colour and size which makes quite an impressive display. I am considering taking some of the newer ones out of their original packaging just to see what they look like.
  5.  The power goes off quite frequently, especially if it rains, clouds over or the weather channel is warning of an extended breakout of normal weather. This is particularly serious for us because we have a well which means that when the electricity goes off, the pump doesn’t work and that means we have no water. I’m not worried about having anything to drink; we have lots of wine and beer but when the power’s off we can’t use the bathrooms and that is a serious issue when you’ve been drinking wine and beer.
  6.  Bears, foxes, deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs and coyotes wander freely through our yard whenever they feel like it and there are moments when I feel like I’m living in a petting zoo on the wrong side of the fence. The dog is severely traumatized and afraid to go outside alone.
  7. Raccoon poop is huge and hard to clean off your patio deck. The smell is so toxic, you have to wear a hazmat suit while you’re cleaning your deck.
  8. When it snows or rains the satellite dish stops working. This bothers me for two reasons. First there is no television reception which means I can’t watch another riveting episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” or “Antiques Road Show” with Maggie. Second, if that’s all it takes to shut down a satellite, it doesn’t leave me with much confidence in our satellite defense systems.
  9.  Left to their own devices, ants will build mounds that are about 2’ wide and almost as high. Given enough time part of your lawn ends up looking like a mogul run at Aspen. Again – don’t ask how I know this. Just move along.
  10. Chain saws are fairly serious things. They’re difficult to start, hard to control and make a lot of noise. Quite frankly, mine makes me nervous but I do take some satisfaction from the fact that people around me get even more nervous when I start mine up. Of course, they’re a bit like that no matter what power tool I have in my hand.
  11. Septic tanks need to be emptied.
  12. To have your septic tank emptied, you have to first dig down through two feet of clay to get to the hatch so that the septic tank cleaners can suck it up. They don’t dig – the bastards!
  13. It takes ten minutes to clean out a septic tank. It takes two days to dig out the hatch and a half day to fill the hole back in.
  14. Crows make a lot noise in the morning. Bats come out in the evening and the old gal that lives alone across the road doesn’t say a word or come out at all but you always know she’s watching you through her blinds. I think she’s part of the government’s intelligence surveillance network. She works morning and night.
  15. No matter what you run out of, you have to drive somewhere to replace it. This includes food, toilet paper, mulch, moisturizing cream, gas, as well as, all of the other things that give you gas.
  16. Some grass grows faster than others and usually the fastest growing grass is the grass in the awkward parts of the lawn you can’t get at with the lawn tractor.
  17. Tree roots do not like being submerged underground. They like to come up through the surface of the lawn, hide in the grass and wait for your lawn tractor to pass over them. Lawn tractors don’t like tree roots or rocks and lawn tractor blades are nowhere near as strong as the ads claim they are.
  18. Dead trees fall over if you don’t cut them down and they never fall where you want them to fall. Patio tables will not support a fallen tree no matter what the manufacturer’s guarantee states.
  19. Black flies and mosquitoes are attracted to insect repellent. 
  20. Aluminum foil is the only effective sun block when you’re cutting your lawn on a hot sunny day. I wear so much of it that I look like the Tin Man when I’m cutting my grass but on the bright side, my cell phone reception improves exponentially. 
  21. Poison ivy is aptly named.
  22. City dogs aren’t very clever when it comes to dealing with either skunks or porcupines.
  23. Squirrels don’t run, they hop – usually from one mulch bed to another where they dig up the mulch to bury their nuts and berries. I don’t hop, I lumber usually from one mulch bed to another where I dig up then throw their nuts and berries on the lawn and then rearrange the mulch they messed up.
  24. If you hear dueling banjos and the phrase “squeal like a pig”, you don’t get out of your car.
  25. Pine trees have pollen. I don’t mean that delicate little crap that bees move from flower to flower, I mean waves and waves and waves of lime green dust that covers everything and that takes days and days and days to remove from the barbeque, the deck, the lawn chairs and the dog. I have been told that the pollen is how pine trees procreate but I haven’t seen one new tree start growing since I got here so I believe my pine trees are only interested in recreational sex. The immoral bastards!

I’ve learned some other stuff too and there’s other stuff I’m just learning but it’s a lot to absorb quickly. Sometimes, there’s so much to learn that my brain hurts but I take satisfaction from the thought that at least it isn’t my left leg hurting because I cut off my foot with the chain saw.

I have lots of bumps, bruises, insect bites and scratches but so far, I’ve still got all of my limbs and their appendages so I probably shouldn’t complain. The guy down the road – another city slicker – is down to three fingers and one foot but then – he’s a slow learner.


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  • red_06tweet

    I read this to my daughter, we had tears from laughter, and I too grew up in the country, and everything you said is true, bless your heart…expect more adventures/tales

    • MaggiesBear

      Living in the country brings an entirely new level of meaning to the term “self-reliance” and I have developed a new-found respect for my friends and neighbours who were born and have lived in the country all their lives. They make it look easy. It isn’t but they make it look like it is. In the end, it is beautiful here and provided I don’t cut off a limb or poke out an eye, all of the stuff I wrote about will be worth it.

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  • Bill Till

    Bear – if it will make you feel any better, country dogs are not any smarter than city dogs re skunks and porcupines. They can’t leave them alone either.

    • MaggiesBear

      That’s reassuring to know. I was beginning to think that Jasper was an idiot. He barks at the garbage truck but hides from squirrels and it takes him an hour to find the perfect place to poop. I don’t know what it is he thinks he’s depositing but it doesn’t require sniffing every blade of grass to find the perfect one to receive it.

      • red_06tweet

        And don’t you just love it when Jasper does not like to go outside in the rain…I have stood in the rain begging our dogs to come outside to poop, they just stare from the porch, probably thinking *isn’t she the crazy one, ain’t no way I am goin in the rain*

  • Brenda2600

    Wait until the ground moves due to frost and the well comes bubbling up ALL AROUND THE WELL. Lots of fun involved trying to get the water to go where you want it to go.

    • MaggiesBear

      Well – that’s a bit of information that’s brightened up my day.

  • oldwhiteguy

    heh heh.

  • http://www.commonplacecrazy.com/ Cynthia Meents

    Funny stuff, Bear! You and your city dog!