I’ve definitely learned a lot in college. On the other hand, I’ve also managed to forget a few key things while I’ve been here. Granted, there are old-school memories I’m glad to have put behind me, like my ridiculous freshman relationship with a guy from Mustang and all the hours I spent in Yahoo! chat rooms before I got a driver’s license. College cultured my lifestyle a great deal; I’m surely not the naïve redneck child that moved here eight months ago. But while culture is a good thing, I also think it’s important to remember where you came from.
A few remarks were made about my country upbringing a couple of weeks ago. It seems that milking a goat and attending tractor pulls are activities in which only rednecks participate. My good friends did not realize exactly where I come from because I’ve managed to change so much even I’ve forgotten what it’s like to live country. Talking about things like eating squirrel and going snipe hunting made me remember those ‘redneck’ activities I once enjoyed so much. Why did I ever stop?
Last weekend, I took an even longer walk down my country road of memories when Tash and I took a little fishing trip Saturday morning. We used chicken livers to catch catfish, which made me think of all the times my sister and I would fish together – no matter what, she always seemed to get the bigger fish. Despite my past fishing experience, that morning I couldn’t even tie a fishing knot. Several hours and one fish later, we were back at Mitchell’s Dairy Farm. After filleting the lone fish, we headed out to Lake Eucha to try our luck fishing once again. It was hot, and we reeked of chicken, fish and sweat; nonetheless we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors. I even have a “one that got away” story – I had just taken my pants off when I got a bite on my line, but the damn fish let the jig go right as I got him to the rock. So there I was in my underclothes, standing on a rock in the lake cussing at a fish as people on boats floated by. I wonder now how many other fishing stories I can remember.
Having no more luck at the lake, Tash and I headed back to her house, this time for a hunting trip. The only thing we could hunt in season right now is morels, which are wild mushrooms that taste really good when fried. We jumped on Tash’s Honda 300s and headed out into the pasture in search of these mushrooms. I began to recall all the times my family and I had gone mushroom hunting after Sunday dinner; Jackie and I would double-up on the three-wheeler or the Honda 400, or even a horse, and gather mushrooms in plastic bags. Later, Dad always fried what we found with flour, salt and pepper; I like mushrooms with ranch dressing or barbecue sauce, but it had been too long since I’d even given a thought to the morels.
When the sun started down and our sacks had a few mushrooms in them, we raced the Hondas back through the pasture and down the gravel road. I may have forgotten about a few things, but I’ll never forget what it feels like when the wheels of an ATV are sliding across loose gravel as I try to top the thing out. Growing up, my sister and my cousins would take turns riding the three-wheeler until we got the four-wheeler, then we’d race one another; the three-wheeler always won for speed, but it was rougher over the hills and bumps of the pasture. But the only gears I could remember Saturday were forward, and I felt like an ass when I had to have a refresher about reverse.
We made dinner for the Mitchell family that night. Tash fried some chicken strips, popcorn shrimp, the lone catfish and the recently captured morels, while I fried potatoes and made sweet tea. I haven’t had a meal like that since I’ve come to school here, which is certainly healthier, but I also haven’t helped cook a meal in that long either. Dad always made me peel potatoes, but I’ve come to realize that I kind of like it. The next morning I woke up to the sound of a rooster crowing and dogs barking, which sure as hell beats the sound of construction outside my window. I remember hearing the neighbor’s rooster one morning and thinking to myself that the rooster’s wake-up call was better than hearing the cows constantly. I actually liked mornings around my house; it meant feeding animals and other work before school, but I was outside in the fresh air and it was beautiful, so it didn’t matter.
I didn’t think things at home would change that much when I moved to Stillwater, but they have more than I wanted them to. Weekends at home don’t really include work for me; the cows have since been sold and I haven’t heard Rutherford’s rooster in quite some time. I miss some of those countrified activities – I’ve taken for-granted how much fun it is to rope, climb in the hay loft, pick blackberries, swim in a horse trough, shoot a bow & arrow and sleep outside. At some point, I must’ve decided that I was too cultured to continue showing my red neck. I’m pretty well traveled now, so I think it’s time now to get back to my roots.