The location of my residence lies within the untamed wilderness outside Wharton Town. This untamed woodland spans over 6,000 acres and is known as Bear’s Nest.
Numerous families inhabit the bear den. It is an abandoned and secluded abode with scarce visitors. Although I maintain a considerable distance from my neighbors and lack profound camaraderie, they naturally constitute an integral part of my sylvan existence. They are akin to the ethereal blossoms of spring, where each catkin contributes to the essence of the season.
The rural landscape of America follows a pattern wherein few individuals inhabit vast expanses, encompassing thousands of acres of forests or tens of thousands of fields. If it happens to be a field, it is often a crimson speck amidst the verdant shrubbery. The green denotes crops, while the red signifies houses. The denizens of this region have a penchant for painting their abodes in fiery hues. From a distance, these structures resemble inebriated crimson-headed insects.
By Chinese standards, their dwellings scarcely qualify as houses. These abodes lack steel frames entirely. From top to bottom, they consist of timber pillars, encompassing both civilian and military aspects, akin to small soldiers. They possess an unrefined and simplistic appearance, resembling hastily sketched outlines. To be specific, the roof comprises linoleum tiles coated in asphalt; the body of the house, if likened to an army, consists of wood chips embedded in the outer layer, fortified by moisture-proof paper and thermal insulation cotton as the backbone, and the rear troops comprise limestone. One should not underestimate the significance of limestone slabs. A mere kick can create a bowl-sized hole, yet they embody the soul of an American home. When they stand tall, they resemble gallant flags within an army, proudly displaying the word “House.” Thus, many American men possess the skill to construct such edifices. As long as they possess wood, nails, and limestone boards, the construction is completed with a resounding bang. However, it must be acknowledged that these houses lack durability. They tremble during hurricanes and, when confronted by tornadoes, they ascend skyward before crashing to the ground, shattering into fragments upon impact.
Undoubtedly, the most challenging aspect of rural America is not the tornadoes but rather the isolation between neighbors. Neighbors reside at considerable distances, separated by forests, and sometimes even two or three woodlands. If one lives adjacent to a vast estate, the expanse between oneself and a neighbor can span hundreds of acres. When we endeavor to catch a glimpse of one another, telescopes are required, reminiscent of encounters between Earthlings and Martians. The so-called neighbors bow their heads, never lifting their gaze to meet one another. Distant relatives cannot compare to close neighbors. Such relationships border on the fantastical. Spreading tales of familial affairs and neighborly scandals is also a fantastical notion. Family scandals are not meant for public consumption, yet there exists no platform for such revelations in this locale.
Within our area, a sprawling 6,000 acres of woodland separate us from our neighbors, reducing the likelihood of encounters even below that of coyotes, ocelots, and raccoons. Raccoons grace my presence daily, emerging and frolicking as dusk descends. Thus, if I desire to rendezvous with my neighbor, I must emulate the raccoons and venture into the woods. Luck also plays a role. To successfully meet the individual, I must coincidentally engage in activities within my yard. Philip and I frequently encounter our neighbors through such means. For instance, during our shopping excursions or visits to the church, we deliberately navigate through the woods, passing near our neighbors’ entranceways. Occasionally, we embark on leisurely strolls, akin to unhurried snails, traversing the paths, meandering through the woods, exploring the adjacent vicinity. As we journey, we catch glimpses of the houses nestled amid the forest—only partial views attainable. Some of the neighboring abodes are concealed among the bushes, exuding an air of mystery, as if harboring numerous secrets.
While passing by, our neighbors spot us and wave in greeting. If they happen to be occupied with chores, they remove their hats and offer salutations. The smiles adorning their countenances flutter about like enthusiastic fireflies. Many men within the neighborhood, like Philip, assume office-related duties, departing early and returning late. Upon reaching home, they shed their formal attire, don threadbare trousers, and engage in activities such as mowing lawns, constructing roads, repairing roofs, or lying beneath pickup trucks, reminiscent of upturned frogs, tinkering away. Neighbors possess substantial pickup trucks employed for transporting turf, vegetable puree, and timber. Should family livestock, be it cows or horses, fall ill, they are hauled to the hospital aboard these vehicles. Occasionally, we witness men sawing colossal trees felled by hurricanes. They perspire profusely, sawthrough the timber with remarkable precision, their muscles bulging and glistening under the sun’s rays.
Women in the neighborhood often tend to domestic affairs, nurturing gardens, and ensuring the well-being of their households. They possess an affinity for floral motifs, adorning their yards with vibrant flowerbeds. The fragrant blossoms sway in the breeze, their colors blending harmoniously with the surrounding greenery. Occasionally, the women gather to share gardening tips and exchange seeds, forming a close-knit community connected by their love for nature’s beauty.
Every now and then, the neighborhood organizes social gatherings, typically during festive occasions or community events. These gatherings serve as opportunities for neighbors to come together and forge stronger bonds. Barbecues are a common occurrence, with savory aromas wafting through the air as families grill various meats and vegetables. Laughter and lively conversations fill the atmosphere, creating a sense of camaraderie among all present.
Despite the physical distance between neighbors, a spirit of mutual support and cooperation pervades the community. In times of need, such as natural disasters or personal emergencies, neighbors readily lend a helping hand, offering assistance and comfort to those affected. This sense of solidarity is cherished and nurtured, forging lasting connections among the residents of the untamed wilderness.
In summary, the rural neighborhood outside Wharton Town, where my residence is located, is characterized by vast distances between neighbors, separated by expansive woodlands and fields. Encountering neighbors requires intentional efforts, such as venturing into the woods or participating in community events. Despite the isolation, there is a sense of community and support among the residents, who come together during social gatherings and offer assistance in times of need. It is a place where the untamed wilderness and the spirit of neighborly connection coexist.