As I settle in to write this column, the rains that tried to wash us away last weekend are finally moving out. I spent last Sunday afternoon driving around White County with a carload of friends. We marveled at the raging Calfkiller and Caney Fork rivers and at countless waterfalls gushing from the faces of rocky bluffs. But that wasn’t the most interesting part of the adventure.
- Rounding a curve in one of the most rural parts of the county, we came upon two bedraggled black horses grazing by the side of the road. A few yards beyond was one of the sorriest looking farm gates I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen some sorry-looking farm gates), leading to a sorry looking pasture. The gate was open. I shooed the horses through it and tied it closed with a piece of electrical cord that was lying in the mud. I’m betting those horses won’t stay put for long, but I did the best I could.
- Because I wasn’t wearing mud boots, I waited in the car while my companions braved a short but soggy hike to the big cave at the Lost Creek State Natural Area. Two pleasant looking gray-haired women smiled and waved at me as they approached the edge of the nearby woods. One of the women bent down and yanked at the base of some iris leaves until the bulb popped out of the ground. She shoved it into her raincoat pocket. Then she bent over and yanked out another one. I could scarcely believe my eyes. In the time it took me to roll the car window down, she had pocketed two more bulbs. “Hey,” I said, in the most authoritative voice I could muster. “This is a state natural area. You’re not allowed to do that.” Did she apologize and return the bulbs to where they belonged? Nope. She just hurried away. “That woman’s scolding me,” I heard her tell her friend, “but I don’t care.”
- Rounding a curve in another rural part of the county, we came upon some baby goats grazing by the side of the road. I’m not making this up. I got out of the car to shoo them to safety when I spotted something I never expected. Two camels, staring straight at me from behind a pasture fence. There were also horses, chickens, many more goats and an animal that looked like a shaggy cow with big curved horns. I pulled out my phone and began snapping pictures. The bravest of my friends patted the nose of one of the camels, which didn’t spit at him. Along came a beat-up car. A woman with a frown on her face and a cigarette dangling from her lower lip leaned out the open window. “Could I help you?” she said. Which really meant “Get out of here.” And so we did.
(April 30, 2017)