Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chickens in the Outfield

Last spring, I was driving to my English class in Yreka and, as I passed the ball park in Ft. Jones, I saw that the JV baseball team was practicing. As I frequently do, I shifted my attention from the road for a while because something caught my eye. The boys has stopped practicing because there were chickens in the outfield. One poor kid, probably a freshman, was in charge of herding the chickens off the field. Herding chickens is akin to herding cats or small children and this guy was having a rough go at it.

I almost pulled over to watch. All I could do was think, "That's so country."

Regina points out the extra-country things that we witness in Siskiyou County and that I usually take for granted or think are perfectly normal. I can tell when her internal country-alarm sounds because it causes one eyebrow to raise and is followed by short, incredulous questions. Rat batting? Really? or, You need another gun ... because? or, A sleeveless Motley Crue shirt, and you're in the wedding?

When I think about Dylan growing up, I realize it'll be here, in this valley. Her childhood will be a lot like mine: she'll think that taking a trip "to town" means going to Etna, and that "the city" is any town, village, or actual city that is larger than Etna (pop. 781). She'll also think that every town outside of Siskiyou County is like Kingpin or Witness, where poor country folks get taken advantage of in big cities.

My latest "country" incident happened in the barber shop. Mind you, "The Palace" has deer, elk, and caribou mounts on the walls and is in itself pretty country. I was in the chair and Richard was working on my hair when a woman and her young son came in. They were familiar with both barbers and chatted about guns, ammunition, shooting guns, and Obama taking their guns. The woman wasn't young, but had a tiny diamond nose stud, which made her a little more attractive, or at least a little more unusual for Yreka.

The woman in the barber shop chatting about hunting didn't really strike me as out of the ordinary. What really struck me was the fact that this woman came to town for her son's haircut dressed head to toe in camo. Not even hunting camo, but a camo sweatsuit. One you'd lounge around the cabin in. Here was a modern woman with a nose stud, fully prepared to hide in a forested area, sitting in a barber shop and talking about the best places to buy ammo.

"That's pretty country," I thought.

As of now, Dylan only owns one item of camo clothing. Regina has some sort of one article of camo clothing per growth spurt rule. That's now, but the country is as much a part of Dylan as it is me. It's even sneaking into Regina, too. I can just imagine Dylan in a few years, dressed in her camo sweats, chasing the chickens off the field so soccer practice can start.