Bucolic

Several years ago, sharing photos of the rural valley where I live, an acquaintance commented, “It looks…bucolic.”

Walking a country road as morning fog lifts.

He meant it as a slur.

He considers himself cosmopolitan, despite living in…Wyoming.

The word bucolic is one I fully embrace, my raison d’etre for moving to Idaho’s mountains fifteen years ago. Having spent most of my life in or near cities, with all their hustle and bustle, and stress, bucolic is the balm that soothes and feeds my soul.

I don’t miss cities.

When I want to experience the wildness of nature, I venture into the forest.

When I seek quiet and solace, I walk bucolic country roads.

There’s so much to see, if one looks.

So much space to think.

Simple pleasures.

Here, tag along, see for yourself. A day in the life, September 21, 2019.

cattle in pasture
Curious cattle watch as my dogs and I pass by on the road.
cattle in pasture
Adorable calf is quite curious, and fearless, unusual for such a young one. Mama – with serious-looking horns – starts shooing him away from the fence where Conall and I are getting too close for her comfort.
calf in pasture
Little one returns to the fence, so I attempt a closeup, holding my camera through the gate while asking my dogs to “stay” so they won’t startle the cattle.
dog in field
Finn watches from the other side of the road, staying, as asked. Oh, and look at those gorgeous clouds to the west!
cattle in pasture
As I’m standing at the gate taking photos of the calf, one of two bulls (gray, with shoulder hump) and another cow with a stern demeanor approach, keeping a close eye on me and Conall, standing beside me.

After capturing a nice photo of the adorable calf, my dogs and I continue walking down the road, eventually returning past the pasture with curious cattle on the way back to our car. The calf and bull were waiting and seem sorry to see us go.

cattle in pasture
Adieu!
fence and pasture
At a different pasture, bits of weathered tree are forever tangled in the barb wire and a red-tailed hawk watches from branch on a tall tree stump.
hawk on post
After loading the dogs in the car, I felt eyes on me. Looking up, I spied this red-tailed hawk watching us from its perch on a tall post.
hawk in flight
The hawk didn’t let me get too close before taking off, circling high overhead to keep an eye on me.
cattle chute
There’s beauty everywhere, even in an old cattle chute.

Morning walk over, the boys and I return home. I try to get some writing done. Some days that’s easier than others. My desk faces a window looking out onto my field and those of neighbors. I’m often distracted by whitetail deer walking through or raptors flying overhead.

On this day, the distraction is a hawk swooping down off my roof right in front of my office window, diving into the field grass just beyond the yard fence. She quickly spreads her wings again and flies onto my fence rail, a vole or mouse clutched in her talons. I quietly dash for my camera, trying to avoid alerting the dogs who are snoozing nearby; they’ve learned that if I’m taking a photo of something through the window, it’s likely a creature they’ll enjoy scaring away.

hawk on fence
The red-tailed hawk, perched at the corner of the yard fence with back to the camera, starts to enjoy her meal.
hawk flying off fence
The dogs, having seen me taking the first photo, go crashing out through their dog door and into the yard, startling the hawk off the fence rail; her body and down-swept wings are barely visible a couple feet above the fence corner, blending in with a tall tree and the brown pasture in the background.

The wildful day isn’t over. Late in the afternoon, while we’re all inside, I notice a single quail on the fence rail just beyond the deck.

quail on fence
A single California quail watches from the fence rail.

That’s odd. I see coveys of quail all the time alongside the road leading to my home, dashing crazily about on foot to get out of the way. Rarely do I see them on my lot.

Hoping again to avoid alerting the dogs, I take a photo through the (seriously needs cleaning) sliding-glass door. Then I carefully open the slider just enough to get a clearer photo. This gets the boys’ attention, so I open the door and we all step outside. The quail takes flight, an alarm that prompts nearly a dozen other quail hiding in the field grass just beyond the fence to also take flight and flee. I had no idea they were there. But I should have guessed, since they’re always in a covey. The quail on the fence rail was their lookout.

That night, in the wee hours, I heard some coyotes yipping and barking messages to each other.

So. You tell me: Is “bucolic” really something to disdain or make fun of?

To each their own. I rather like bucolic.

Maybe its synonym – idyllic – better describes the sense of peace I find here most of the time.

Feature photo: autumn cattails along a pasture fence, morning fog lifting.

4 thoughts on “Bucolic”

  1. When I think of ‘bucolic’ (a word I’ve never used), in my mind it means peaceful. I just looked it up and see that isn’t a synonym, but a word I would use to describe all of the other synonyms. My immersion in the country was sudden. We were urban people living in Washington DC and then we weren’t. Looking back, I really can’t figure out what I liked about living in a city.

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  2. Oxford says bucolic: relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life. No insult there. Peace, wonders of life and curious cattle. Perfect.

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