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Hill Country Living

Hill Country Living
By Coulter Fussell

Easter in Water Valley can be a frightening time. The storm Easter night was wild over here on Wood Street. Every window in our house was rattling. And I mean rattling like maybe our house was about to fall apart, Jenga-style, which it may be about to do just on any normal day, much less during tornadic conditions. 

I had to call my kids downstairs from their games so if we all died, they wouldn’t die live on Xbox and make me look like a bad mother. Instead, we’d all die sitting on the sofa eating our quarantine stash of Goldfish crackers, Pop Tart Bites and birthday cake flavored Easter Peeps.

My friend Claire up the street was, for some reason unbeknownst to me and all that is holy, sitting in her carport during the whole thing. She was texting my friends and I play-by-plays of the destruction which included limbs falling on her carport and cats scatterings and transformers blowing up and many bad auto-corrects. She survived but her hitherto masterful grasp of the English language was severely damaged. We’re praying for a full recovery.

Speaking of praying, I saw on social media that everyone did Easter at home! Most everyone “home-churched.” This is how I’ve  done Easter every year (except without the church part) and it’s quite relaxing! I appreciate the efforts of the people who dressed up anyway and took Easter photos as if they were about to go to not-at-home church. The whole thing was pretty meta from an outsider’s perspective.

My life does have religious leanings, though, as due to weeks of jobless quarantine my yard now looks like The Garden of Eden. I think I’ve spent most of my time outside planting stuff. I’ve made flower beds, I’ve planted bushes, I’ve planted trees, I’ve built rock walls, I’ve built rock beds, I’ve dug up bulbs, I’ve planted bulbs, I’ve trained vines to fetch and I’ve named all the worms. (Can we talk about the size of Water Valley worms for a second? Surely we’re breaking records here, people.)

Anyway, God has repaid me with a severe case of poison ivy with red bugs sprinkled on top.  But clearly that’s a test and my purpose is to keep on gardening through all the sickness until the quarantine is over. Which means I’m pretty much about to start a new life-long career as a farmer.

And that would be apropos because like most people, I’ve gone through many stages during this whole ordeal. The first initial stage for me was utter shock at restaurants closing. “Fear” is a good word to describe my feelings then. “Weepiness” is a good one for my reaction. I couldn’t fathom a world with no restaurants. It was unimaginable. Not because I’m hooked on going out to eat, but because as long as there’s been people there’s been people selling food to other people. It was a foundation issue for me, the driving force of commerce. Food service was basically the second oldest profession.

The stomach-turning shock has worn off for me now. I’m in the Jigsaw Puzzle Phase. This is a very soothing phase and I suggest it to everyone. My coffee table wasn’t big enough for my puzzle, so instead I put my puzzle on the back of my kid’s tri-board from his never-turned-in social studies project about Al Capone. 

The puzzle is a graphic of various North American mammals within very close range of each other and, against all that is natural, not fighting amongst themselves. They just stand majestically, staring out toward the puzzle-piecer, waiting for something.

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