Saturday, September 15, 2018

I Got My Name in the Paper

This article I wrote will be in the local

Memphis Democrat in the next couple weeks - Enjoy!

Highway MM from Rutledge back and forth to Memphis the other night was two very different experiences.  In the partial light and drizzle on my way to Memphis, it was a beautiful country drive; hills and curves and cows.  I love these kinds of drives.  I used to have to leave the city to take a country detour like this.  Now, as a new resident at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, I get to enjoy the backroads in the natural course of my comings and goings.

While the drive to Memphis was enjoyable, the drive back to Dancing Rabbit from Memphis later that night was a completely different story.  I enjoyed spending a couple hours with some new acquaintances in Memphis before heading back to Dancing Rabbit about 8:30.  That same appealing drive through the country a couple hours earlier turned into a test of my nerves and equilibrium on the way home.  It was my first time driving this road at night, and the darkness was complicated by more rain, big puddles trying to pull me off the road, and the glare of oncoming headlights.  I knew the center line was there, but it was impossible to see.  I slowed down.  The curves came out of nowhere.  I slowed down again.  Just as I thought I was getting more comfortable and speeding up a little again, I’d hit an unexpected puddle and slowed down yet again.  My move to Dancing Rabbit is proving remarkably similar to my trip to Memphis.

Visiting DR in May for my official Visitor Session was more like the leisurely drive in the country I just described.  It was bright, sunny and easily navigable.  May is my favorite month of the year, by the way.  I could see the curves coming up ahead and the yellow lines were clearly marked.  Not a puddle to be muddled.  No glare off the smiles of the other rabbits in the bright light of day.  The subsequent reality of moving to Dancing Rabbit as a new Resident on August 30th, is akin to the nighttime traipse on wet, winding, unfamiliar roads.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the transition has been treacherous, but things are absolutely unfamiliar with unexpected, sharp turns and a steep hill or two popping up out of nowhere.  The solution, once again, seems to be “slow down.”  I don’t know about you, but “slow down” has not been something I’ve been very good at over my lifetime.  I tend to speed up until I uncomfortably hit the rumble strips on the shoulder then I slow down again.  Speed up, slow down.  Speed up, slow down.  Over and over.  This time it will be different.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Let me tell you more about myself.  My name is Troy Matthews, and I’m from Kansas City - Overland Park, Kansas to be exact.  I’m the newest resident of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri.  Nice to meet you!  I first found Dancing Rabbit online back about the year 2000.  I was looking for something different, better to my way of thinking, than how I was living as a suburbanite.  Getting out of the city into the country was part of “living better” in my mind and still is.  Grandma and Grandpa lived on a farm near Alma, Missouri when I was a kid.  My dad and mom did not have the farming bug, so I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City and also in Southwest Florida.  After many years of living mostly in the ‘burbs but also in big cities like New York and Paris, I bought my first home about 30 minutes south of Kansas City in the country.  For a long time, I heard that call of moving out to the country.  My country house is situated on a little pond with several pecan trees in the yard.  I imagine most of you reading this understand the call of country living.  Moving to Dancing Rabbit is another step for me toward the country, and I’m very happy to be here.

And then there was a bedraggled, white cat the other day...

Cats can be conniving.  As I walked the gravel path around the residential area of the village recenty, a white cat, Mr. Cat, approached me from behind, pulled up alongside, passed me, walked ahead 5 or 6 feet directly in front of me, and had a heart attack.  I kept walking.  The cat recovered instantly and and this time had a stroke directly in my path; writhing on it’s back like a puppet with a couple strings missing.  You might already realize what was going on, but I still did not.  I kept walking.

For a third time, the cat recovered and caught up to me.  Instead of just passing by this time, Mr. Cat rounded my right leg rubbing as we walked.  Mr. Cat then rushed ahead again collapsing in the path before me yet again.  “Maybe this cat wants some attention?,” I finally realized.  “Of course!  Mr. Cat just wants some attention.”  I’m a little slow.  I told you I’ve lived in the suburbs for a long time.  I did not oblige Mr. Cat with any attention.  I was busy going nowhere.  I did not have time or inclination to indulge a conniving cat.  Vague warnings like “Do Not Feed the Bears”, “Natural Area - Do Not Disturb” and “Don’t Pet Strangers” also flitted through my brain.  Mr. Cat persisted.  I persisted as well.  Instead of flopping down on the gravel on pass number six, Mr. Cat just kept catting on his way.  I’ll give Mr. Cat credit for persistence.

I think karma got back at me the next day - bad cat karma.  Here’s what happened.
Woke up knowing I should roll over and stay in bed.  An annoying sound like a fax machine being suffocated by a feather pillow kept poking my peace in the ribs making sleep improbable.  I got up.  It was raining.

I checked my usual email and social media.  Rabbits get lots of email about things going on in the village and business between individuals.  While I was web surfing, Bear asked me to move my truck to the lower field in preparation for the Dancing Rabbit Open House.  We wanted space for visitors to park up front right at the entrance to our village.  I assumed the rain had made for a muddy lower field, but  I have four-wheel drive and won’t get stuck.  Hah! - won’t get stuck.  I put the truck in 4 Low and moved to the lower field just a few hundred feet down the road.  I had an inkling I should park facing downhill where I could pull out forward later without having to back up, but I did not heed my own inkling of the obvious.  Two other vehicles were parked already, and I wanted to conform so I pulled in just as they had done earlier.  I immediately wondered if I would be able to back my truck out and immediately made an attempt to pull out and immediately found myself stuck.  Stuck.  Stuck.  Stuck.  Stuckity stuck stuck. I knew it.  Stuck.  The truck is stuck in the muck.  Stuck!

I walked back up the hill to the village self-talking my way out of a tantrum or pity party.  Told you I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.  I soon told a couple other folks about my truck being stuck in the muck.  “Welcome to the club,” says one.  “Getting stuck is a rite of passage here,” says another one.  “I can help you,” says yet another.  I felt a little less disgusted with myself.

Not too long after I got the truck stuck in the muck my new Dancing Rabbit community circled up to kick off the Open House.  We circle up and hold hands before Tuesday Potluck and Community Dinner on Friday as well.  There were about 30 grown ups and a bunch of kids at the Open House kickoff.  “Who knows the DR song?”  “I do.  I mean I think I do.  It took me 21 times to learn it, but I think I know it.”  The song is sung.  As I learn in to hear the words and catch the melody, I get that warm, connected, “glad I’m here” feeling once again.   By the end of the song, most of the the mucky stuck truck taste was washed out of my mouth.

That’s all for now.  I’m settling into my new life at Dancing Rabbit.  It took the help of a tractor to get my truck out of the muck, and Mr. Cat is nowhere to be found.  If you see me in town at Keith’s Cafe, Tri-State Used Furniture, or getting a coffee on the square all of which I’ve already visited be sure and  say, “Hello.” If I look like I’m in a hurry, I’d appreciate a friendly reminder to slow down.  Again.

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