Published on Mon, 08/11/2014 - 9:30am
Living in the country definitely provides me with a sense of safety and privacy. Without the least worry of a neighbor complaining, I yell, “Jordan!” as loud as I can from the deck when he has a phone call. I traipse outside wearing comfy shorts, a huge camouflage coat and mud boots without any concern of being seen or judged on my appearance. And, I look up every time I hear a car coming down our gravel road because, nine times out of ten, I recognize who’s driving by and can offer a neighborly wave.
I appreciate how, in many ways, life really is a little simpler in the country. With the busyness and bustle of the city miles away, there’s something so peaceful about living in a home surrounded only by a grove and rolling fields of corn. And, many times, that provides me with a—probably false—sense of safety.
Last summer, we received a message on our home answering machine. It was a voice recording from the local Sheriff’s Department. It alerted us that there was a “suspect at large on foot in your area.” We were told that deputies were nearby and that we should keep our houses and cars locked and to call 911 if there was any suspicious behavior. In a moment, the quiet splendor of living in the country was tainted with the reality that there is bad in this world.
We waited and waited to hear the final reports regarding the suspect and, in the mean time, put our trust in the local authorities and went on with life as usual, albeit with heightened senses and a few more locked doors. After a couple days of keeping cooped up in the house with our one year-old daughter. I decided it was important not to live in fear. I led her out to the sandbox and let her play as I kept a lookout for any bad guys.
It was a beautiful day: The sun was shining, birds were flitting from tree to tree and, if it hadn’t been for the possibility of a suspect roaming around our area, I would have been enjoying every minute. However, the longer we sat the more alert I became. I startled every time a bird took flight. I would hear twigs break\ in the grove and my heart would race. And before long, I was picturing a big, scary, ax-wielding man behind every corner. Our once harmless-looking sheds began to look like perfect hideouts and my daughter and I were definitely vulnerable targets.
At that moment, I heard a thump-thump-thump-CRASH! I scooped my girl out of the sandbox and ran to the house as fast as I could!
Once inside, leaning against the locked door, clinging to my baby and breathing deeply, I started to laugh. I knew exactly what sound I had just heard. I had heard it many times before and it had nothing to do with the evil-intentioned man I had pictured moments earlier. The thump-thump-thump-CRASH I heard was undoubtedly the sound of a gray squirrel jumping from a tree limb onto our steel outbuilding roof.
But for me, that day, I couldn’t help but think that was the scariest squirrel I’ve ever heard.