That's what everyone says about Missouri weather, and it's an accurate statement. However, as I look back, I realize it applies to life in general.
In 1975 we moved into an old two-story house on six-and-a-half acres. It wasn't as much land as I wanted, but it was what we could afford at the time. It was obvious to me that I'd have to learn to be happy with what we had.
Then in 1986, the neighbor next door, Tim, decided to relocate and sell his house and sixty-plus acres. Marvin, whose parents used to own that place, wanted the house but had no use for land. We talked to Tim about a per-acre price. Our finances just wouldn't allow us to buy all the land, but we felt we could handle the thirty-seven acres directly north of our property, so we refinanced, had it surveyed, and fenced it. Marvin took the rest of the land, about seventeen acres.
This was an opportunity I wouldn't have expected in my wildest dreams, but there you have it. We now had forty-three acres!
Next, I spent years dreaming of being wealthy enough to build a house back off the road, away from the traffic and the people; a place with some sort of view besides somebody else's mess.
We never became wealthy, but by hook or by crook (and good credit), we ended up in a used mobile home back here behind the barn. I have a view now, and I got away from all the foot traffic across the yard.
As it turns out, I'd have lost the foot traffic anyhow.
For ten years or so, I felt I had no privacy. The kids on the west would travel through our yard to visit the kids on the east, and visa versa, peering in our windows as they passed and later telling me what they saw ("I didn't know you had a TV in your bedroom"). We had that hideous rental trailer on the other side of our driveway, and the kids on the east and west often merged with the kids in the trailer, sometimes partying in the yard all night long. If I stepped out the door, it seemed as though I had to answer to some kid who wanted to know where I was going and what I was going to do next.
I may as well have lived in town.
Today the rental trailer is gone (one of the few changes that was actually of our own doing), Marvin's family, on the west, abandoned their four-year-old monstrosity of a house, and one of the families on the east abandoned their home also. The only time neighbor kids come around is when they visit Cliff in his shop; yes, even the neighbor kids who no longer live here visit Cliff from time to time. Where else can you go to change a tire or work on your dirt bike? None of them care these days where I'm going or what I'm doing.
At present the thing that bugs me is the unkept appearance of the abandoned homes on either side of us. Siding is blowing off one, and the roof is blowing off the other. Both are surrounded by weeds. (Yes, I do get what I'm saying: I wanted rid of the kids in the yard and they're gone, so now I'm complaining about the empty houses. Obviously I cannot be satisfied.)
But just when it starts to bug me that our property is skirted by shabby yards and ghost houses, I remind myself how quickly and completely things can change, with absolutely no intervention from me. All the things I used to fret about fixed themselves. My worrying and fuming didn't serve any good purpose. The neighbor who once falsely accused me of killing her rooster, standing at my door and cussing me out at the top of her lungs, lives in town now, and greets me cheerfully when we happen to meet, as though we're old friends.
As for the abandoned houses, who knows what might happen in two or three years' time? Maybe we'll get some neighbors who actually mow their yards and aren't visited regularly by the cops.
Now here's a confession: I rather miss the excitement of hearing gunshots after dark and all the loud cursing that used to go on to the west. I miss looking over there thinking, "Now what are they up to?"
I had my own real-life soap opera/reality show, and I didn't appreciate it. We never realize what we have until it's gone.
Whatever happens, I can guarantee you that things will change. All I have to do is stay alive long enough to see it.
Oh, and let's hope the change is for the better. Because we all know it can go either way.
I just happen to have been extremely lucky thus far.