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When "City" and "Country" Collide

I was raised in the city. I rode with my Mom to school in the morning. I mostly rode the bus home. In high school I developed the desire to become a music teacher. A dream that I took with me through another few years of high school,two years of community college, four years of the Navy (as an electrician), and finally through three more years of college at a university in central Washington (by this time with a wife and growing family). I intended to be a "city dweller" for the rest of my life.

Then came a move to rural, eastern Montana. We passed miles and miles of wheat fields. We would pass by many coveys of Ring-Necked Pheasants just on the way to churh each Sunday (which was 40 miles, by the way). Occasionally, a White-tail deer would come bounding out of a wheat field into the path of our mini-van. I know I smacked at least one. One of the kids happened to be riding shot-gun, and got to see deer hooves slide over the windshield, and up over the roof one time - miraculously no damage to the car. We were in Montana for two years.

The next move took us to Wyoming. I was still teaching music, but again, we were in a rural setting. In Wyoming we saw antelope everywhere. I then took a job as a correctional officer at the State Penitentiary, so I finally had an excuse to buy my own firearms.

I had acquired my mother-in-law's pre-64 Winchester 94 30-30. I had also talked a friend of mine to take me along on his annual antelope hunt. I actually got one, my first time out.

We had a fellow at church who was a strong advocate of the Boy Scouts, so my boys were enrolled fairly quickly. There was a few years where my work schedule wouldn't let me go camping with the boys, but I did as often as I could. Camping in Wyoming is hard, because Winter ends in June, reappears by mid-September.

The prairies of Wyoming are thick with the smell of sage. When I was out in the field, I didn't like the smell much, but I must have gotten used to it. Maybe I even started to like it. Because as more time passed, September would arrive, and I would want to go outside, and just stare off over the prairies, and I would want to be out there looking for antelope.

I had tons of fun going hunting with my boys, even if we came back empty handed. I enjoyed the stalks, even if we spooked the antelope - or deer, or whatever. It was more fun for me than sitting on a shoreline with a pole in my hand.

I'm just as lazy as the next person, and I'll drag my feet getting things put together for a camping trip, but once I get packed, and get out there, I have just as much fun as anyone else.

It was hard to get up in the woods as often as I wanted to, but I loved being up there. When I finally got another good camera, I didn't take many pictures in town (unless it was the local Mule Deer herd, or group of antelope). But we'd pack up the (remaining) kids, and go for a drive on Saturdays, and every time we came across an antelope or several, I'd stop to grab some pictures. When the family, or the Scouts would camp up in the woods I'd take my camera.

We have now lived in Texas for a while, near a major city. I enjoyed the convenience, but I enjoyed being out on the ranch. We have since moved to Oklahoma. We had the convenience of living near a town large enough to have a Wal-Mart, but I enjoyed being out on the ranch more than being in town. I enjoy songs like "Where the Green Grass Grows", "Good Ground", "International Harvester", and "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm".

I guess it sort of snuck up on me. This City Boy is now Country to the bone. If you had told me 20 years ago, that I would feel like this, I would have never believed it. You couldn't have persuaded me that I'd prefer a tent to an RV. Somewhere in the middle of grumbling about how far it was to get anywhere, and about the loneliness on the Wyoming high plains, my heart changed. I no longer have what I complained about, and I find myself working to get it back.