Step off a curb in Kalida/ Leipsic/Ottawa/Frogtown and feel the squish of wet, puddling snow beneath your pumps/oxford/ socks-in-flip-flops. Step carefully on the sidewalk, not to avoid the cracks that are rumored to break your mother’s back. Hike a tree-lined trail, flipping the top layer of frosted leaves to find sodden plant matter stuck to your leg when you reach trail’s end.

This is November in Northwest Ohio. And it is the envy of the American West—the wet part is, anyway. As the American West burns, we have water. It’s sloppy, sometimes frozen, but it’s plentiful and, at the moment, fresh.

The pigs don’t like it. The wallow pond is cold, skimmed with ice in the morning. Donkeys bray for fuel before first light. The llamas hum from beneath the pines, dry under an impenetrable coat of wool built in the chill of Peruvian mountains long ago. The chickens just stare balefully from their nests of straw. We’re lucky to receive an egg a day. I grumble that they are lucky I could find my waterproof boots. Years ago, just a mile away, I remember hearing my grandpa saying something very similar as he walked across the barnyard to milk the cows.

But that’s my story, and this is the last time I will tell it here. There’s a letter-to-the-editor in today’s Putnam County Sentinel that has a decidedly different view of the Back 40 and its place here in this newspaper. Although I’m not the editor, I acknowledge her ink. Thank you to everyone who has shared their ideas for this column, their own experiences here on this patch of green — the very sort of place that Californians looked for and found, or thought they had until their dreams dried up and cindered.

Now, with all my free time, I’ll be playing Jolly Ball with the other kids: the pot-bellied pigs, the goats, the donkeys.