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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Setting the Pace

© Another Day in the Country

In the country, the pace is slower. It takes awhile for things to grow and country life is all about growth — wheat, beans, cattle, grass. You can pray for rain, but it will come when it gets good and ready.

You can fertilize the crops but they still grow at a steady rate. There’s no rushing Mother Nature.

In a small town in the country, the pace is slower, too. The most consistent visitor to my address is the mailman. If the doorbell rings, it’s usually him with a package too big for the box. His face may be the only face I see in a given day except for my sister’s.

There’s a rhythm to the pace in the country. I can tell the days of the week by whatever happens on a given day. It’s usually a Saturday when I hear the lawnmowers start up. On Sunday, traffic in town picks up because of the Lutheran church that sets a block away from my house. Sometimes I can hear their music. I always hear the bell.

Three days a week, I’m leaving town first thing in the morning.

There’s no traffic. It comforts me to see the Post Office open and her car parked out front, even if I have no reason to stop in to mail a package or buy stamps. This morning when I was mailing Mother’s Day Cards, she had the front door propped open so fresh air could get into the building. “Chasing out winter,” she said, laughing.

In the city, the pace is so much faster. Traffic never ever stops completely. The night is never without sounds. How can it be different with so many people packed so close together? I don’t sleep very well in the city. I much prefer going to sleep with the window open so I can hear the coyotes call or the train calling out the crossings. Those sounds don’t usually keep me awake. They are soothing.

In Ramona, if you want the pace to pick up, something exciting to happen, you’ve got to plan it. So, on Saturday we had a Kentucky Derby Dinner complete with betting on the horses, big fancy dress hats and Mint Julep’s.

Hearing about the Derby got us talking about our old friend Tony who died about 10 years ago.

He always bet on the Derby and had a special account to facilitate his passion. It was the spring of his last year — I think he was 96 and in hospice — but when Derby time rolled around, he wanted to bet on the Derby one last time.

Jess made the arrangements, and we decided to have a party with him so we invited a couple of friends to join us. We had hats from our stash in storage, so everyone was in full bonnet-bloom, as we watched the race. Tony’s horse didn’t win, but we all won with wonderful memories.

Saturday, the cousins, the cousin’s kids, and the cousin’s kid’s kids showed up for dinner complete with Key Lime Pie and Mint Juleps. The girls were all glorious in their big hats and we took pictures. It took us awhile to figure out the best betting system.

I had even consulted with the guys in “Mayberry” (the health club) about a fair way to do a simple betting scheme, since most of us didn’t know anything about the horses. We settled on placing a $5 bet that would allow us to draw two horses’ names out of the pot. Any leftovers went for $1 a throw.

We tried to make this simple, but we still had quite a time keeping track of “our horses.” And then there was the grand complication of rain with the muddy, messy, track. Here we’d been waiting for weeks for the Kentucky Derby, and it was over in such a hurry. It’s beyond me how they can spin a few minutes of racing time into almost five hours of television coverage.

The pace picked up in Ramona while we all hollered and cheered for our horses. Our 5-year-old had put in five bucks for his two horses and he had an easier time keeping track of at least one because the jockey had on a bright pink jersey.

And would you believe it, that horse whose jockey wore the pink jersey came in first? Clayton was so excited, he was jumping up and down and running around the living room. And then they announced there was a problem … the horse might be disqualified for a technicality.

Who wants to try and explain this to a kindergartner?

“You won, but you didn’t really win, honey, that’s life.”

While the judges deliberated, Clayton got bored and went outside to hunt for snail shells in my flower garden — a definitely slow-paced activity. The judges finally gave the trophy to the horse in second place.

It was another day in the country, and guess who had that second place horse? Clayton! What are the odds?

Last modified May 9, 2019

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