We who live in the Ozarks of south-central Missouri (specifically Texas County) can potentially experience many things that folks who live in other places might not.

Because of this area’s largely rural nature and the proximity of fairly large to very large expanses of wilderness, stuff can and will take place here that would be foreign to folks living in places where there are fewer critters, changes in weather, or geologic oddities.

For example, you might find yourself standing outside your home listening to your dog howling in harmony with two separate packs of coyotes located no more than a third of a mile away in opposing directions, and then look up and see a large bat flying so closely overhead that you feel like you could reach out and touch it.

You could attend a horsemanship clinic, have a gelding tied up to a trailer shed its halter and run off, locate it a couple of miles away only to have it run away again, be assisted by a dozen people on horseback in an all-out search for it, see a granddaddy-sized bobcat during the search while driving your truck along what used to be a road but is now little more than a wide trail, and finally end up finding the horse inside a fenced corral owned by a woman who captured it simply by opening a gate to allow it to visit with her two mares.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

You might go swimming in a river at the point where a large spring branch converges with it, and stand in shoulder-deep water with astoundingly differing temperature layers where it seems like the bottom two-feet or so are cold enough to freeze your toes off while the top layer feels almost like warm bath water.

You could have cows show up in your yard after wandering out of the neighbor’s pasture through a damaged fence line, and then witness your small female dog fearlessly chase them back where they came from as if she weighed about 30 times her actual weight, and basically bark the bovine intruders half way to the next county before relenting.

You might hear that same small dog barking her head off outside your house one morning, go out to investigate, and find a mother possum with a baby inside one of the two dog houses that sit on your side porch.

You could see a pair of snow-white turkeys hanging out with four or five normal ones in a cow pasture not far from your home, and then a few months later have a neighbor confirm you aren’t crazy by telling you he saw some white turkeys the other day.

You might see a pair of ducks from a species rarely seen at this latitude frolicking in the waters of a seasonal creek that runs through the valley near your home.

You could learn to tolerate ticks, ­understand the value of house centipedes, or find the sound of millions of cicadas to be somewhat pleasant.

You might even have a storm rip dozens of shingles from the roof on the west side of your house and scatter them all over the yard on the east side as it blows through your property packing such strong winds you wonder if it was a tornado, but then find yourself feeling thankful that it wasn’t an EF5 that scattered your entire house all over the immediate area.

The reason I believe all of these things could happen to a resident of the south-central Missouri Ozarks (specifically Texas County) is because I know they have. They all happened to me or my wife  – within the past year.

Ah, yes, there’s no place like home.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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