Most writers have an office, den, or other favorite place where they can go to be alone and focus on their craft. Until recently, I was an exception to that rule. My habit was to simply hunker down on whatever piece of furniture was farthest away from my boisterous family. More often than not, I could still hear every word my wife and kids yelled at one another, which made concentrating on my work extremely difficult.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my family, even if they are the loudest people in all of Boone County. They’re so loud that whenever we go to a big town like Columbia, I have to remind them to keep it down so they won’t disturb the nice city dwellers who may not be accustomed to hearing the exotic sounds of wild country folk. “This is what’s known as a neighborhood,” I say to my vociferous mate and our progeny. “When these people hear you screaming like this, they assume someone’s being murdered.”
I have, at long last, discovered a peaceful sanctuary in which to write. The words you are now reading were written from the comfort of my recreational vehicle, the very one that has provided the material for what several readers have called the funniest columns I’ve written for the Boone County Journal over the last few years. What I recently realized is that my RV, (a 30’ long, 1999 Thor Hurricane that’s been partially destroyed by two South Dakota hail storms and a dog with volcanic diarrhea), does not have to be on the road to be of aid to my writing. Parked in the driveway beside my house, the Hurricane has become my preferred writing space.
Though peaceful, due to the fact that it is parked within our two and a half heavily wooded acres, the motor home is not a quiet place in which to write. Right now it is 9:30 on Sunday night. Outside the Hurricane’s screened windows is a cacophony of country sounds. I can hear crickets, dogs, and countless tree frogs communicating with each other. Just as it began to get dark, I could hear our cat expressing her displeasure with a neighbor cat trespassing on our back porch. And a few minutes ago I was treated to a chorus of coyotes howling and yapping excitedly somewhere in the inky blackness of our woods.
Our two and a half acres make up a small portion of a much larger, mostly forested area with a relatively low number of houses interspersed throughout. While our location is not exactly what I would consider remote, it is fairly wild, and I absolutely love it. Wildlife is all around us. We regularly have raccoons that help themselves to our cat’s food and water—in our garage. Just this weekend I caught two large wolf spiders and a small lizard—in our house. I also relocated a wayward box turtle that had attracted the attention of our dogs in the fenced-in area of our back yard.
A phoebe has, for the third year in a row, made a nest on top of our front porch light, and for the second straight year, a wren has made a nest in the outer vent of our clothes dryer. As I was trimming weeds on our hiking trail in the woods yesterday, I smelled such a strong odor of skunk that I hesitated to take another step for fear of spooking the hidden stinker and getting sprayed. While I typed that last sentence, a barred owl started calling from the dark. Further in the distance I can hear a bullfrog croaking at our neighbor’s pond. Something much closer, (and by the sound of it much bigger), is rustling in the dead leaves between the Hurricane and the house. This has not escaped the attention of our neighbor’s dog, who sounds like she would very much like to find out what’s making all that noise.
While I love to take the Hurricane out on the road, making memories and dodging disasters, there’s a lot to be said for enjoying the old camper while it’s parked in the driveway. I still get to enjoy nature, and I don’t have to worry about what kind of gas mileage I’m getting. Although I am a little worried about whatever’s rustling in the leaves I have to walk through to get back to the house. Maybe I’ll just sleep out here tonight…