Sour cherry jam Moving to Western Kentucky wasn’t on my things I need to do before I die list, but when Elvis and I decided to leave Florida (me after twenty-two years, Elvis, three) and move to the small rural town where Elvis grew up, I was all-in. 150%.

Twenty months have passed since that move.

I discovered my passion for bird-watching. I identified forty-two species in my bird journal. Yup, a bird-journal. Of course, it helps to have a few acres of woods to identify said birds, as opposed to a postage stamp-sized property on a street corner in the city where if memory serves me, I only saw mourning doves perched on the telephone wires and several species of swans, ducks, coots, and herons in the lakes.

Hawk The red-clay soil in Kentucky, as opposed to the sandy soil of Florida, is like nuclear soil spiked with growth hormones. No GMO’s needed here, although sadly, the corn and soy crops are anything but.

If you don’t can and freeze food in the short summer growth season, you’re a slave to the big box groceries. It took me two winters to figure that one out, even though I don’t want to count the first winter, as we’d moved here in October and that first winter I lived in a state of denial and shock.

Small town politics in Mad’ville are as ferocious and split as in Washington, D.C.

Kentucky-Derby-2012College basketball, horses and bourbon are like a religion in Kentucky.

Local farmers are the heroes of country living. Sincere, pure, and passionate.

Just because you own a lot of land and live in Kentucky, does not mean you own horses, or are a farmer, or want to be a horse owner or farmer.

The more I know about food and food production, the less I know. For the first time in my fifty-one years, (and after twenty-three years working in the food industry), I’ve eaten garlic scapes (jury is out still on that mostly because I haven’t figured out what to do with them) and sour cherry jam (fresh, sweet and tart on the finish). I sipped bourbon, slurped a double –wide and Red Robins at Christmas, (small quantities are best-a hard lesson to learn).

I learned about osage trees (the hardest wood with gnarly-knobbed, lemon-lime, grapefruit-sized fruit with a milky inedible flesh), and bought my first canning kit. Pears and tomatoes will go in the jars, beans, corn and basil pesto, in the freezer.

Greens and garlic scapes w baconThere are more varieties of bacon sold in the grocery than I ever saw in twenty-three years in the food industry, and I would have sworn on a bible I sold and cooked every conceivable cut and flavor.

Other notable county-lifestyle stuff worth mentioning. My hair has gone from a shade of Easter egg yellow, ash-brown with streaks of blond (something I specifically mentioned I didn’t want), and now, a neutral-looking light brown, almost blond color with a tendency to favor red when I’m outside in the sun. Gone are the days of a three-color blond weave with an Italian product processed by the sweetest, funniest hairdresser I know. And as much as I like Tiffany, my current hairdresser, I pray she doesn’t move or get pregnant and want to quit her job. But she is by no means, Michael J. my hairdresser of twelve years in Florida.

Sour cherry jam In the end, more than anything,  place and taste are what matters. While I remember the briny scent of the ocean and miss fresh, day-caught seafood, I cherish the grassy hot air and the sweet, tart sour cherry jam of Kentucky. And bacon. Lots of bacon.