After writing a column this spring calling into question the joys of grass mowing a regular reader called me to point out that I'd taken on a similar topic approximately a year earlier.

After writing a column this spring calling into question the joys of grass mowing a regular reader called me to point out that I’d taken on a similar topic approximately a year earlier.

I come to you today dear reader with a pledge that no more whining about grass cutting will flow from these finger tips in the future. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t explore topics such as weed pulling and leaf raking.

Why abandon a tried and true topic like grass mowing that obviously I feel passionately about? It hit me like multiple bags of grass clippings that I have no room to complain after seeing what my brother by marriage, Kent Miller, has to mow at his southeast Missouri home at least weekly during the growing season, which I’m estimating runs at least from March through October. And although Kent didn’t say as much, it’s quite possible that he is still mowing up until the first 4-inch snow of the winter.

Of course Kent has a lawn tractor with which to mow his turf. If I were to attempt to cut Kent’s acreage with my little push mower, I would never stop; by the time I got to the end it would be time to start over again.

My appreciation for Kent’s yard maintenance chores arose a couple of weeks ago during a two-day visit to his beautiful rural Jackson, Mo., home that he shares with his wife, Gloria, and dog, Quincy.

The Millers were kind enough to open their home to my wife, Nancy, and me so that I might be able to photograph the recent solar eclipse in that peaceful country setting, as opposed to experiencing totality while elbow to elbow with a mob of eclipse viewer-wearing strangers.

Not only would the visit allow me to view and enjoy the eclipse, but it would open my eyes to life in a rural setting as opposed to in the “hood.”

I’m not saying that Kent and Gloria live in the “sticks,” but you know you’re leaving the beaten path when your car’s global-positioning system refuses to calculate a course to help you find your destination. That left us relying on directions that consisted of “approximately a mile after leaving the pavement you’ll make a hard left turn, then a hard right turn and then we’re the first drive on the left.”

The biggest difference between rural and city life were the sounds. Where I live in Hannibal nature’s sounds of summer are frequently drowned out by loud voices, sirens, multiple barking dogs, blaring car stereo systems, motorcycle pipes, train horns, jake brakes being used by tractor-trailers on a downhill grade out on the highway and on occasion, when the wind is just right, the horn of the Mark Twain Riverboat as it either is departing on a cruise or returning to shore.

In the country there are sounds, only different. Yes, the occasional vehicle passed their house, but none blasting “gangsta” rap. There was also the occasional cow bellow from a nearby field and low hum of hummingbird wings on final approach to a feeder.

The most unsettling sound I heard was an occasional “pow, pow, pow.” I’m embarrassed to admit that after 30 plus years in the “hood” I couldn’t tell if it was someone using a hammer or a gun.

At night in this rural setting an orchestra of sound was provided by tree frogs, crickets, locust and who knows what else would perform.

Kent and Gloria advised that some city-dwelling friends who had stayed with them offered that it was “too quiet” at night, making it tough to sleep. And while it was definitely quieter than I am accustomed to at night, it certainly didn’t sour my little taste of country living.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.