Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A stay in the country

Me with my brother a few years ago

 Jacob and I have just returned from two nights at my brother’s ranch near Tolar, Texas, where we got a good taste of country life. I’m quite sure Jacob and I had different perspectives on it, but for me it was another needed lesson in relaxation. After much internal debate, I took my computer, rationalizing that I had so much work to be done, so many files coming in that I had to save various places on my computer. I might as well have saved the trouble—my email worked once briefly on the computer, though the iPad and phone got emails regularly once I was hooked up to the Peckham home wifi. I did spend what my brother thought was an appalling amount of time at my computer. When I got home tonight, it worked perfectly. I’ll call TCU to see what the problem was.

But it’s so true the pace in the country is slower. Although John and Cindy do run a working ranch, with cattle, he is a retired physician, and he and Cindy do things on their own time schedule.

We were late getting there Sunday—probably six—and John took Jacob to collect eggs, feed the miniature donkey, and I don’t know what else. Then we had a happy hour, delayed by some experiment with the new magic oven and the fact that the salmon was undercooked even for my taste. But we had wonderful salmon, stir-fried vegetables (from the garden, of course), and a bit of leftover rice salad that I brought. By then, all that work I thought was so urgent didn’t seem urgent at all. I read a book before going to sleep and slept late (for me) the next morning.

Next morning, we dallied over coffee—me at the computer again, frustrated by its failure to connect-- and finally we started off on the mile to get the paper. Cindy walks and John follows in the Kubota—a mechanized mule. Jacob walked with Cindy for a good part of the way and then said his stomach started to hurt. Coming back from the highway, where the Star-Telegram leaves the paper, John walked for almost half a mile.  Just when he was about to get in the mule, a neighbor rode up on a bicycle, then another neighbor drove to get his paper, and they stood and “jawed” for a long while. Even I was getting that empty in the head feeling from needing to eat. So John suggested a chow break before they moved cows from one pasture to another, which is a complicated procedure—more about that from Jacob’s perspective tomorrow. But John acquired a shadow--Jacob dogged him everywhere he went, wanted to help, and was mightily disappointed this morning to learn that he'd slept through the successful move of the cows to the pecan pasture. John was firm but full of praise for Jacob's empathy for animals, and the child beamed. Oh, yeah, a couple of times he was too much but mostly it was good.

Moving the cows was only partially successful, but we were hot, dirty, and once again hungry, so we broke for lunch, naps, quiet time. A bit of idle visiting, and we were off to tour the ranch and look for traces of Bigfoot—by then I admit it was hot, and I was wilting.

And the day was gone—it was time to cook the steaks and have happy hour. If I ate that well every day, I’d be a blimp. Cindy made that ubiquitous potato casserole that everyone loves, as well as special home-made fries for Jacob. (The have a restaurant-quality special “magic oven” does everything.)

Bedtime, and Jacob was all excited because he had a very loose tooth. But my point is that the day just seemed to fade away. I never once looked at the clock. Yes, I worked at my computer but without the sense of urgency I frequently feel. I need to do that more often.

Tomorrow, a day in the country from a child’s perspective, complete with jackrabbits, a bull, a steer with horns, and Bigfoot.

Thanks to John and Cindy for hospitality, a great time, and fellowship. I know many families where siblings aren’t close, and I am grateful to John for our relationship and to Cindy for all the things we share—from cooking to grandchildren to animals. We have a lot to talk about when we’re together. What a nice break from my daily life.

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