By Jennifer Madden
In 2004, my husband was offered a job at Toyota. It sounded great. Wonderful money, competitive benefits. But it was in Kentucky. Four hours away from all my family. Literally, my mother lived five minutes away from us. It was traumatic to even think about leaving.
We decided that before we packed up the family and moved so far away, hubby should check it out first. So, he went down, rented an apartment, and live in Kentucky during the week, then came home on the weekends to see us. After a year and a half, we decided that it was time to move. We had been apart a long time, and things needed to change.
So, thank goodness for the internet. We found a chunk of land that we liked the look of, and it was within driving distance but out of all the congestion of the city. We bought the land and moved down. The house wasn’t what we wanted, but it would suit us for a little while.
We were very hopeful of what was to come. Until we met our neighbors.
The first lady we ran into was an older lady that lived adjoining the far end of our land. The very first thing out of her mouth was, ‘You all are Buckeyes?’ as if that was bad. I didn’t realize that we had moved to a state that was as passionate about their Cats as we were about our Bucks.
A neighbor farmer was running cattle on the land, and we let him for several more months, but we finally asked him to remove them because they were tearing up fence. He didn’t appreciate that.
We also discovered a pot cultivation field hidden down in our woods. I’m sure somebody was upset they lost it.
Literally, I chased people off my land a dozen times the first year. Armed, of course. People actually wanted to argue with me that they had permission from the owner. Helloooo, I am the new owner. I slowly realized that there was a cultural reluctance to admit anything to a woman.
It was also an eye opening experience going into a SMOKING grocery store. You walk through the aisles and step on cigarette butts. The bread tastes like ash. For a lifelong non-smoker, it was a real shock.
For a long time, I was really set on not liking Kentucky, and I looked at everything negatively. I think because it was so different, and so far away from my family. Mom would call, and I could hear the sadness in her voice because she missed us.
But that distance also created an appreciation for the state I was in. I couldn’t run home every weekend, so I was forced to find other things in our area. Like the 5000 acre wildlife preserve literally a half mile away. And the drive-in theater in Paris, twenty minutes away. The operating soda counter in a department store, also in Paris.
Then there were the horses.
My gosh, for a horse crazy girl like I was, Kentucky turned into paradise. There were miles upon miles of black plank fence, and barns that I would be proud to live in. There are four public racetracks within an hour of me, and too many private ones to count. Ads in the paper for broodmare grooms, spindly legged foals every spring. The list has no end.
I finally realized I was in horse heaven.
So, writing Second Time Around was easy, when I had so much wonderful material. And with my previous law enforcement experience, the two merged perfectly.
I love Kentucky, now. Well, for the most part anyway. The smoke filled grocery store is still a turnoff, but it gives me a reason to range wider and find new treasures.