16 August 2011

The Dark Side of Country Living

Most of the time I love living in the country.  I love the quiet seclusion and privacy.  I relish living surrounded by Iowa's lush greenery and having space for animals and plants and children to thrive.  Most of the time it's peaceful and uneventful.
It's not the fierce thunderstorms that rattle the house or the biting snowstorms that chill every living creature to the bone that make rural life occasionally unpleasant.  Don't get me wrong--those powerful acts of nature are enough to make me quake in my boots but it's just part of how the world works.  No, there is something much more disturbing and secretive than a magnificent display of weather.
My neighbor texted me the other night to tell me someone had backed up to their woodpile and stealthily loaded their truck with wood before peeling off down the highway.  It shook her up since it's not the first time someone has invited themselves to something from their property.  Though most people who prefer to live in the seclusion of the country are genuinely outstanding, kind and hardworking, some people exploit the lonliness to supply their laziness and greed.
There's no wonder why meth houses thrive in exurban scenery, why some dump heaps of trash in the ditches, help themselves to others possessions, even rustle pets and livestock, either to be held for ransom or transported out-of-state to be sold.  There's few residence out here to see them do it.  The nearest sheriff's station is half an hour away and being on the fringe of the county, I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a sheriff or state trooper patrolling along our house.
I wish we could say that we were unaffected by a criminal's selfishness but we've had items lifted while we were away.  Even then, it was a few small things with mere sentimental value, like the old sledgehammer Jack's grandfather used when he helped build I-80.  It hurt and was incredibly frustrating knowing they were gone and we weren't getting them back.
We are not completely defenseless though.  People out here protect themselves with guns, large dogs that are wary of strangers and who aren't afraid to bark, fences and gates and security systems and locks to keep trespassers out and most effective of all, a network of neighbors who keep watch for suspicious behavior.
The hardest part of a trial like this is to remember that though there are a handful of miserable, covetous, slothful lawbreakers in the world who don't bat an eye at making others upset, most people aren't that way.  Most people are upstanding and would never dream of helping themselves to something that isn't theirs.  Most people are accountable for their actions.  Most people are good and a lot of them live around here.  That makes the dark side of country living a sliver in comparison to how wonderful it can be, most of the time.

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