I’m a freelance writer and editor, and I write fiction as well. I live in rural Oklahoma with my brilliant, rockin’ musician partner, Laura Shawen (check her out on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and Amazon), our two dogs and prize-winning Arabian stallion, Cattamen.
When we moved from the D.C. area to rural Oklahoma, we weren’t sure what to expect. We anticipated we’d have greater privacy because of living half an hour from the nearest small town, population 5,000. We expected to become closer to nature and find a slower pace of life.
With the move to the country, our lives changed radically and immediately. We arrived on a May evening, and found that the previous owners had left behind a few things—like ducks, chickens, barn cats, and puppies (who turned out to have parvo, which was heartbreaking). They’d left the door wide open and the lights on, and bugs of all kinds and sizes were swarming through the house. We were so overcome that we got back in the car and drove into town to stay at a motel that night. How citified and feeble we were!
We were workaholics that first couple of weeks, ripping out and replacing all the carpet; buying a tractor and brush hog, learning to use them, and mowing down all the overgrown brush around the house to cut down on snakes and bugs; painting everything in sight; and generally getting things live-able.
Within two weeks, the infamous Oklahoma weather had welcomed us with a tornado, which destroyed a mobile home that was on the property (but, thankfully, only broke a few windows in the house we lived in). We had our first plumbing lesson when we found that the tornado had broken the hydrant (something we called a hand pump) up at the mobile home and water—precious water from our one and only operating well—was spurting into the air. The shut-off valve was, of course, buried under the rubble from the mobile home. Laura put her brawn to work lifting one end of the collapsed trailer while I crawled underneath, located the valve, and shut it off. We then removed the hydrant and capped it off underground.
We were so proud of ourselves for taking care of the problem without having to call a plumber! Little did we know then that there weren’t any plumbers who would have come all the way out to us.
Living in a very rural area you learn to do a lot of things for yourselves, such as replace windows that the 80-mile-an-hour straight line winds have blown out, build and repair fences, replace your own water heater, install a new pump in the well, throw around 75-pound bales of alfalfa and hay, repair the tractor, and on and on.
We learned that we love horses, and we learned how to become horse breeders. We learned to sit out in the pickup with our shotguns all night on the full moons when a former ranch hand took to cutting our fences and harming our horses on the full of the moon. When I got pneumonia and was unable to work for a full month, Laura, despite being very sick herself, still went out every day, sometimes in the rain, and pitched hay to the horses and generally kept things going.
Living in the country teaches you to be strong and self-reliant, and when tornadoes or drought come they give rise to philosophical thoughts about the nature of God.
It’s also a great place to write. I’ve never felt as inspired as I have living way out here. Oklahoma just has a special something that moves with the ever-present wind, like the fuzz from our cottonwood trees floating on the air every summer, turning what is ordinary into something magical. Oklahoma, with its red clay dirt roads and brilliant green winter wheat, is in my blood now and I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I hope you have found a place as special as this to be. I think, like true love, such a place exists for all of us.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you subscribe. Please check out my website, too, at http://kathleenlourde.com. Two free short stories are published there to give you a sense of how I write, along with a couple of articles and other information.