The House In Which I live
In the dense woods about fifty miles west of Raleigh, North Carolina, near a town named after a creek that flows into Rocky River (which I like to joke is named after me), sits this little two-bedroom farmhouse in which I live. I don’t live here alone, of course; I share its cozy space and its surrounding thirteen acres with my gorgeous wife, twelve dogs, cat, six rabbits, two donkeys, half a dozen sheep, turkey, numerous feral game chickens, tyrannical Toulouse, and badass little one-eyed guinea who, I’m quite certain, was a bald eagle in his former life. Then there are the wild things that live in the tree dark: creeping things and flying things and things that watch me through the branches at night with eyes that glow red or green in the occasional sweeping beam of my flashlight.
In the summer, there are slithering things. They come out of their holes to bask in the sun, or to hunt scurrying things, or to steal eggs from feathered things. I once observed a battle between a hungry copperhead snake and a tenacious mother hen intent on preventing her unhatched offspring from becoming dinner for the slimy fellow. Much to my surprise, the chicken won, and Mr. Copperhead slithered off in search of an easier meal.
I can’t say that I have fared as well as Mama Hen when it comes to encounters with the venomous snakes that crawl around outside the house in which I live. As a boxer, my overall record is 43-2-1. Against North Carolina copperheads: 0-2. In July of 2011 I was bitten twice by one of the loathsome serpents while he was coiled in the weeds at the edge of my yard. Then, in July of last year, I was bitten again by another guy who was hanging out near my porch steps. I’ve since invested in a good pair of high-topped rubber boots.
But this place is my Eden, and Eden isn’t without its serpents. Prior to moving to this little slice of Nirvana in 2008, I spent much of my life as a city-dweller, lived in twelve different states, and never in one house, apartment, boat, etc. for more than a couple of years at a time. Now, going into the fifth year of my life in the middle of the North Carolina woods, as I drive up my 500-foot driveway, perfectly lined with tall, swaying trees, to the sounds of barking dogs and braying donkeys and clucking chickens, I feel at home for the first time in my life. I don’t miss the air pollution or the honking horns or the bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s been replaced with the beauty of an encompassing wall of green foliage and a starry night sky, the inviting warmth of a wood-burning stove, and the perpetual music of the creatures who allow me to share their home with them. I think I shall finally grow some roots, gather a bit of proverbial moss.