Not everyone is fond of dogs, especially giant ones, and so my beloved Blue would not become a therapy dog for the residents as originally planned and she would no longer be making weekly visits. My love for this giant puppy was endless and sincere and i was devastated at the idea that i might not see her again. My coworker said, “you can come to the house and see her anytime.” I asked if i could come on friday after work and he said yes. And so the visit to my coworker’s homestead was on the books and i was about to see my precious Blue again! He said i could also see his cows and the calf which was just icing on the cake.
My main objective was to see Blue but there was this other thing, not to be glossed over…my coworker lived in an area where every property was a homestead. It was miles and miles of homesteaders. Everyone had livestock and trees that were hundreds of years old. The further from the city of fredericksburg i got, the more cows and sheep i saw, and the less buildings and more trees and rolling hills there were. The sun shone more golden here. The trees were taller, the sky bluer, the clouds more lazy. It seemed i was in a different world. I passed stone houses and wooden houses, with wrap around porches and rocking chairs. One property had a yard full of alpacas and a tiny grey wooden house. The house had a wrap around porch and on the steps sat a girl who might have been 2 years old if even. She wore a dress and bare feet. Her blonde hair was barely long enough to reach her neck. She had a bowl full of berries and was eating them on the porch while the alpacas grazed. The front door was slightly open, i assume so her mother could watch her from inside. She looked content, barefoot on the steps, sun gracing her arm. This was a different world.
I was driving, took a look at the gps, lifted my head, and there was a big black cow standing directly beside the car. she was shiny. There were 3 more standing nearby. One came over to see what my car was about. I pulled gently forwards. The further i went the more houses there were and the more different kinds of cows i saw. Finally i arrived and i saw my coworker and blue jumping off the porch and running to greet me. “Blue!” I shouted. I couldnt get out of the car fast enough. My coworker seemed so different from how he was at work. He seemed content…in his element. He wasn’t poking at everybody and anything, trying to get a rise out of everybody and be the comedian. He was still, quiet even. He had a content and relaxed expression on his face. He seemed happy. I could understand this. It was utopia with all the giant ancient trees and the little stone house built generations ago. The property was home to cows, dogs, and cats. What could be better company? I met the cows but Blue, being the puppy that she was, was barking and chasing the cows around and mama cow was not having any of it with her new calf nearby. Blue was in very real danger of getting a kick in the head to match her eye scratches at the hands of the barn cats she was so sure were dogs. My coworker sat down on some bare metal swivel chairs that looked like they used to have cushions. To answer my inquisitive expression he stated, “Blue ate all but one of the cushions so i just took the last one up.” I smiled thinking, “Ah, the puppy phase…”. That phase when you cant have anything nice and you’re always cleaning or preventing certain disaster. I was unbothered by the fact that she had eaten the cushions. They werent my cushions. I was Blue’s auntie. My coworker was her parent. Two very different roles. I pulled Blue onto my lap and held her like a 35 lb baby. I rocked her in the metal frame of the swivel chair for over an hour while my coworker enjoyed a beer on his porch and his teenage son hunted his friends in the woods with air rifles and camouflage suits. Its a rare privilege to see someone content. I was glad that he had this place where he and his family could be away from the city. I didn’t take any pictures at my coworker’s house. It seemed a private place, a piece of wilderness to be experienced, not photographed.
Meat and poultry had been removed from my diet during childhood and i couldnt digest it by the time i wanted to add it back in during adulthood. However, i had never eaten deer. My coworker told me he’d give me a tiny piece of deer meat to try from his freezer. He was curious if i’d be able to tolerate it since it wasnt a prior known protein for my system, it would be new. I was unsure but i agreed to conduct the experiment on a weekend, when i had a stretch of time to be sick without interfering with work if need be. I thought he was going to give me a tiny piece but he ended up sending me home with a whole vacuum sealed bloody piece of deer that either he or his son had undoubtedly shot.
Two of my coworkers were really bothered by the fact that i used a gps. They kept running through what if scenarios in which the gps would be unavailable to me and asking me what i’d do. I didnt think my use of a gps was as horrible as either of them did. I used the gps to get places the first few times and then once id been there a couple times i just memorized the route. They were heck bent on teaching me to navigate without it. Im a visual thinker so i cannot associate “china street” with the stretch of road it pertains to because there is nothing china-ish about it. Pecan rd also doesnt have pecans or pecan trees on it. None of this system makes any sense, and certain roads just become other roads and at what point exactly this morph happens nobody knows…im also too near sighted to read the street signs until im nearly passing them at 40 mph. Forget it at 75. Its just smarter to use the gps rather than nearly cause a traffic accident 6 times on the way home. But it seems really important to these guys that i navigate without it. Most of the time i push back because there are reasons i use the gps and just because i take steps to be as functional as i am… i guess what im trying to say is ive found coping skills and adaptive ways of doing things that work for me and render me highly functional and its not fair to ask me to have a meltdown and behave like a child for my peers to believe that the adaptive measures have a requirement and a purpose behind them. It is as if a marine biologist is telling a crowd, “no, fish really cant breathe out of water, they need water in their gills to breathe, but we’ve put these fish in a shallow pool so you can see them and interact with them and they can still breathe. And the crowd crosses their arms and sarcastically exclaims, “well i guess just never try new things then. You stay doing exactly what you’re doing and never grow and never try new things.” It is implied that the fish are being ridiculous and stubborn refusing to leave the water and try dry land. And then when the marine biologist puts a fish on land to demonstrate that it will suffocate the crowd gasps and goes, “geez, what a scene that you are making!” To the fish. I dont believe i should have to demonstrate a panic attack just to prove the ways in which i have adapted over the years to be high functioning are necessary and serve a valid purpose. people should have enough decency to take my word for it and not need to see a flopping fish to conclude it cant breathe out of water.
However, today my coworker offered to draw me a map. I took him up on it, realizing that i am a visual thinker and if he could make a visual rendition of the route he wanted me to take home without the business of a thousand colorful tangled lines on a road map, i could probably follow it whereas his auditory instructions might as well have been spoken in Portuguese. He was a bit caught of guard. He hadnt expected me to take him up on that and now he had to make good on his offer and learn to draw. It took him a while but he did make a drawing of the route he wanted me to take home, labeled with street names. He said i could call him if i got lost. I did end up calling him. Effectively i traded the voice of the gps for the voice of my coworker. So, no closer to tech-free apocalyptic survival navigation skills, but i did get something out of it. The route he had given me home from his homestead to mine was all back roads through undeveloped homestead country. There was a spirited creek with a very low concrete road it was being sucked under. Then there was a sign that said loose livestock. The rest of the way home was just hours of homesteads, loose livestock, wrap around porches on tiny unique houses, and fenced fruit trees. It was like a safari where you could get so close to the animals in your car, except the animals were cows and beautiful shiny dark brown horses, peacocks, goats, sheep, donkeys, and of course deer. Every operation was unique. Every house was different. Every shed was different. You could tell things were built with whatever was on hand. The animals were shiny, big, and healthy. Some had babies with them. The horses were magnificent. I saw a truck bed garden…something id always dreamed of when i lived in apartments. The speed limit was 35 mph on these winding roads up and down through the hills and past creeks. Oak wilt was visible everywhere. It had killed all my coworker’s 300 and 400 year old oaks. It had killed a lot of these peoples’ oaks and was working on the rest. It made me feel not so alone in my plight, watching my own oaks die with nothing i could reasonably do about it. Then, without warning, i broke through the tree cover and was at the top of a hill. I could see over all the other hills. The view was of miles and miles of hills and the setting sun stretched over them with long horizontal rays. It was a breathtaking view. I felt on top of the world, and then i dipped down into the trees again and crossed another creek. It was the most relaxing beautiful drive i had ever taken in my whole life. It was the closest thing to a spiritual experience i have had. It was like the whole world fell away and i was somewhere else. I only saw 1 car and 1 human for over an hour.
It spit me out at the flea market in my town and i knew where i was for the first time since i had left my coworker’s homestead. I folded the map he had drawn and tucked it under my viser. i would at some point undoubtedly visit blue again, and i intended to re-drive this route home. It was quite the experience. I wondered how many people knew that there was a farming version of an african safari where you could see cows instead of zebra? “Loose livestock” is the best sign in existence and the day i got to see Blue and drive through all those different homesteads for over an hour…was one of the best days of my life. Definitely one for the books.
This is a heartwarming story about a visit to a coworker’s homestead, where the author sees the beauty of rural life and a different way of living. The detail in the description is vivid and transports the reader to the author’s experience. It’s a reminder that sometimes taking a break from technology and the city can lead to unexpected treasures.
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