Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
April 2012

I apologize for the absence,but…

I’ve been in Morocco. Running an inn, where people come on vacation, can make one long for a vacation of their own. And so, Morocco came to be. It’s an amazing country! In Marrakech, we walked the streets, fragrant with cumin and mint, storks flying overhead, and, after turning one corner, a man half-squating, pooping into a clear plastic bag. Ah, the sights…the smells!

It was an amazing trip. We started in Casablanca, moved the Fez, traveled through the snow of the Atlas Mountains, rode unruly camels in the Sahara, and ended in Marrakech, where the continents of Europe and Africa meet in a sometimes uncomfortable union. Surrounded by desert, and colonized by the French, Morocco is very much more near Madrid than Nairobi. At night, bars are filled with men drinking beer, and when the call for prayer is made, maybe 35% of those who hear it go to their mosque.

The rugs are beautiful. I bought a camel leather bag in the Fez leather works that amazes me to this day. We were surprised by the large Jewish community that lived, and in part still does live, in Morocco. We visited synagogues and viewed numerous gates that opened to the old Jewish quarters, close to the Royal Palace. Tile is everywhere. The kind of tile that we pay hundreds of dollars for in this country; tiles rich in color, skillfully crafted by men sitting on rugs with small hand axes. Lasers may be more precise, but hand-worked craftsmanship is timeless.

But even timelessness has its limits. So we have returned to Granville. The lambs are frolicking. The llamas are ornery, and the goats are fat. It’s good to be home. I’ve forgotten what to do at feeding time, the rabbits went without hay yesterday. Today, however, they received a double helping and spent the day outside. There are two robin nests right outside the laundry room door, with babies inside, and it’s quite the commotion each time someone walks by them. The trees are in bloom. It’s great to be home…and it’s a privilege. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve seem too many people in need, but many of them, oddly, did have satellite dishes. So if they can’t have a bed, at least they can see the one on Everybody Loves Raymond, and wonder, like me, who would put gray wallpaper on any wall in their home.

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The duckling that shouldn’t have been.

Today I was in the local feed store buying some hay – a tad scandalous in itself as they have a new hay vendor and are charging .75 cents more a bale! As I was waiting to pay, I noticed they, like so many feed stores in Central Ohio, have baby ducks and chicks for sale. Now, I would never buy from these places as you never know the diseases these little ones carry – mixing with so many others. In this feed store, however, I was struck by the amount of dead ducklings in their little holding area. It was a massacre.

Ugly as this is to type, the other ducks and chicks were pecking at their dead brethren, recreating a scene from Alive, only under a heat lamp and not in the Himalayas. Amazed at this site, I then saw a duckling who couldn’t stand up. He was cheeping, being stepped on by the others in the bin, pushed under the heat lamp, and being constantly pecked at. I asked the man at the counter if could take him home.

As we drove home, the duckling died in my lap. It was inevitable. But when we got in the truck, I thought, this is surely a better way to go then what he left behind. In pure Lord of the Rings fashion, I laid him to rest in a rich, deep green grassy area, surrounded by early blooming wild flowers. Maybe someone has already eaten him, but he’s joined the circle of life. I placed him on the corner of the property, stopping the truck at the Orchard House entrance – it’s possible he had some disease, and I have too many others to think about.

Next time I’m at the store, I’m going to think about those “expendable” babies who, if they’re lucky, will live the a joyful life on a farm with a lake, or they’ll perish under a heat lamp, having barely survived a journey through the U.S. Postal Service. Remember, when you can be kind, even if the ending is inevitable, you’re turning an animal that was just a number into a living, breathing member of the natural world.

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Escaping modernity.

Yet another Saturday night, and here I am, flipping between a “flashback” episode of The Waltons and a 20/20 special about children with OCD. I love compilation TV episodes, where they look back on the highlights of a season, few years, or entire series. Tonight, it’s the entire series. A few minutes ago, I saw a clip from The Waltons where Johnboy tells his parents that it’s time he moves to New York City, to become the writer he, and really, already was.

Johnboy was talking about how he needed to go to New York, but how he would always miss his home – the whippoorwills, the slow sound of a frog beaconing to a mate, the resting breathe of a cow, or the every-night ritual of saying goodnight to his family. This got me to thinking, as modernity continues to push us forward, growing up in the country is become a luxury. How many kids run around with sheep? Aren’t scared of a worm? Know what to do it a goat escapes from the pasture?

It’s a heritage that is quickly disappearing! And those kids that know what to do? We label as “country” or “red-neck” – unfairly I might say. For a nation founded on agriculture and rural living, too many of us have forgotten this heritage. Children, should they ever live in our house, would get to chase sheep, run with dogs, and search for eggs in the coop. And they’ll be able to go museums, visit historic forts, and ride in a taxi cab. The best of both worlds? Indeed.

That is all. My thoughts for the night. It’s been a long day…and still continues. And a dog keeps jumping up, trying to sit in my lap. It’s time I indulge him.

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