Thursday, December 3, 2009

Last Year I Was Afraid of Everything

Everything seemed so wild and untamed and ... scary.  I moved into this house in the woods all alone and the silence and the darkness terrified me.  I thought axe murderers were crawling up the hill, (wo)man-eating coyotes were lurking just past every tree.  It didn't help that the coyotes frequently and loudly made their presence known.  For the first month or so, I kept the front porch lights on all the time because, well, I don't know why. I was afraid.  Then I got the dogs and I couldn't avoid the outside at night or in the morning because I had to walk them (pre-invisible fence).  Here I am, right at an edge of my property looking uphill on a foggy morning.  The lights from my house are at the very faaar right of the shot. 

It was terrifying to drive home at night in the dark and see nothing but trees.  I felt like I had to keep eagle eyes open for deer running into the roadway.  Things seemed so 'Blair Witch Project' scary all the time.  There were a lot of trees and wildness very close to the house.  Here's a picture of the area that was graded a few weeks ago, my future orchard.  Now it's clear and smooth and open, but this time last year it looked like this. Total, over-my-head wildness.

When I got the dogs, Maggie was NOT housetrained yet, so I was learning how to make a fire in the woodstove and keep it going at the same time I was keeping a puppy on a six-foot leash and trying to watch her all the time.  She was crated when I wasn't home, so I rushed home after work to let her out.  Desmond went on jaunts for hours and I got many phone calls from people miles away telling me they had my dog.  I was cold all the time. Everything was out of control and terrible and scary.

What made me think of the contrast between last year and this year is this.  I'm not scared and super-alert driving home through the woods in the dark any more.  I'm getting a sense of how to keep an eye open for motion and be ready to slow down quickly.  But I'm relaxed about it.  Desmond and Maggie stay in their electric fence while I'm gone and I can stay out late if I want now because I know they're OK (hungry maybe, but OK).  I can start a fire on one try and keep it going for days.  It's still wild around here and scary to newbies, but I'm feeling more at home, which is a pretty nice feeling compared to last year.


  1. I rarely feel comfortable saying this to anyone, but .....I know exactly what you mean!

    I bought my rural property in late December 2007. 2009 was so different than 2008. I'm not there full time, so the creepy factor can return occasionally. But the difference is obvious.

    I have to laugh though -- my city dog is more afraid of the dark than I am. I really can't blame him. One night he would not leave the front porch, but I made him, pulling him, because I knew he had to take care of business. And then I heard the roar. I was inches from a bear -- since I was facing toward and pulling my dog, I didn't see it. It was about 7 p.m. and very dark.

    Now I trust my dog, and if he's antsy we just stick around outside the porch. He's usually antsy.

    And then there are the nights when he starts barking and barks continuously for five minutes, and I don't see anything. Did ya ever experience that?

    Cop friends told me to get a shotgun, which I did, but I didn't learn how to use it yet.

  2. You never let on last year how miserable you were. Wish you had because maybe we could have given you some comfort and/or helped in some way.

    You get a big Gold Star for being big and brave and sticking it out through that tough first year. So good to hear all things seem much better now. You've really done so much in a short time.

  3. Yea for Jordan! My heart really went out to you last winter - particularly when you'd say how cold it was in the house. You've learned so very much, my friend. It's been a great experience to read about it here.

  4. Kate - that's the exact word I was looking for - creepy! Yes, Maggie does sometimes bark for no reason for a long time. I don't know what it is, but I'm thinking rabbit, porcupine, faraway dogs. who knows what. It does make me nervous though. The cool thing is that when I'm out late at night watching the stars and neither of the dogs are barking or hyper alert, I can be certain there's nothing around, which is very nice.

    Mama Pea - I know it seems like longer, but I've only been blogging since June-ish, 6 months. I did complain about the crappiness on Facebook (thanks for 'listening' Linda). Just like your first year, it's a badge of honor now!

    Kate - I do expect to have a gun of some sort sooner rather than later. That will help me feel safer too. What a story you have about the bear! There really are wild animals lurking behind every tree !?! Say it isn't so!

  5. Jordan, one day in June, about 5:30 in the morning, I rolled over on the futon in the living room, which is just under the front window. My dog was totally still beside me. And there it was: I heard someone else roll over. Huh. Told myself it was the wind.

    Got up 20 minutes later, started to open the front door and shut it after I heard a big roar.

    I went to the side window and saw FOUR bears running from my front to the back, and up the hill behind me. VT agency said it was a Mom and cubs.

    My dog was totally silent. He does not bark at bears, or move.

  6. Thanks for visiting my blog today! It's great to see what you've done since moving out to the country. I'm looking forward to hearing about when you get your goats!

  7. Oh wow Kate - You've got a city dog! Amazing! My dogs have been here a year, so I do think they feel like they own the place. There's a lot less wildlife around now than last year, probably because of Maggie and her barking.

    Thanks Deborah - yo've got a great blog!

  8. I grew up in the country. As an adult I've lived alone in the country, down a dead end lane, and I've lived alone in a small town. It's the small town that makes me uneasy and after nearly 10 years I still yearn to go back to the country.

    I enjoy your blog Jordan. =)

  9. Penny, I totally agree that town/city life is more unsafe than country life. We're all comfortable with what we know. I'm comfortable here now, but I was terrified for a few months! Whereas, I'm totally comfortable in most cities around the world (even though there's more danger).