This past summer, our family said goodbye to our log cabin. It was a bittersweet moment. We bought a new piece of property earlier this year, so I know new adventures are in store for us. But my heart will forever be attached in some way to this cozy little cabin in the middle of our wooded paradise.
Memories have flooded my mind ever since we parted ways with that land. Scott and I bought the property fifteen years ago, back when we only had five kids, with one on the way. When we trekked through it that first time, I thought to myself that I had never seen such beautiful land in all of Alabama.
I had always dreamed of owning land that looked like Tennessee. On the first youth trip I was allowed to attend, we traveled to the World’s Fair in Tennessee. There was a creek neighboring the place where we stayed. In the early mornings, I would find my way down to this secluded spot on a large rock in the middle of the creek, where I’d read and pray. I had never felt so close to God.
That was when my love for nature, trees, and creeks in the midst of hills and mountains began. For the longest, I couldn’t find much of that back home in South Alabama, so when our little property turned out to be everything I had ever dreamed about, I was so happy to build a little home-away-from-home on it.
We built an off-grid kind of cabin. It looks out over a large creek that leads to Lake Jordan. We spent many days canoeing down that creek. I was out there paddling when I was six months pregnant! The fly fishing was outstanding, though difficult to do with the 9 of us.
The land had such diverse terrain. Down near the creek, you’ve never seen such enormous leaves on Big Leaf Magnolias and Wild Azaleas. The virgin Oaks in the low areas had a majestic, untouched beauty to them, reminiscent of Narnia. The upper ridges were teeming with long-leaf pines, a dwindling species that has struggled to keep up with a changing forest landscape. We were so blessed to be enjoying life among this amazing collection of wild flora.
As we explored our land through the years, we stumbled upon amazing hidden enclaves and breathtaking sights worthy of a painting or movie. Often, we wondered if our ancestors had fished these same creeks and hiked these same hills, or if we were the first. Traces and artifacts of Native Americans (my ancestors—Creek Indians) were definitely everywhere. We found so many arrowheads, along with a mortar and pestle. So Cool!
There is one day in particular I’ll never forget. Our family was hiking this really tough stretch on the side of one of the steeper hills. My youngest son, at the time around four years old, was lagging behind with me. Scott was trying to encourage him by saying, “You can do it, Little Bear.” He replied with his very sincere little four year-old voice, “This little Bear ain’t gonna make it.”
Right then, we began to hear rushing water. Can you imagine our amazement when we found a hidden waterfall? Oh. My. Goodness.
So why we would we sell such a place? My husband, Scott, has a passion for land. He was calling realtors at the age of thirteen inquiring about land. He had a vision of owning 1,000 acres and living right smack in the middle of it. Once, after we broke up, he told his mother not to worry about him—that he would be happy living alone right out in the middle of the woods. He was serious.
Scott has given me everything I have ever wanted, especially his love (I feel adored by him) and seven kids! As much as he has loved our paradise, our family has grown and now we have different needs.
We like to manage land and manage ponds. There’s no real way to manage creeks and lakes, at least not a way for one family to do so.
We love to fish. Although we had the creek, on our new land we will have four ponds. You can keep a pond and stock it with whatever you like. You can fertilize it, lime it, fish it—totally manage it. Fishing a pond can help build camaraderie between the people fishing. You might be able get that on a creek, but you really have to be separated to fish a creek.
Our family also loves to hunt, as you may know. We will be able to manage almost ten times more land. Making green fields and habitats for the wildlife, growing larger healthier deer, making landscape conducive (with some help from Legion Landscaping) to attracting dove, quail, and ducks is not only fun, but rewarding.
We love to forage and find new edibles in the wild. Discovering what is on the land and enhancing the environment to create more food sources for the wildlife and for us is a major selling point.
I’m going to miss our first land tremendously. While it took me a while to “let go” of it, I realize it really isn’t mine anyway. Although it was ours free and clear (we paid it off), it’s really God’s, and we are merely stewards. We are passing it on to another family to manage and for them to create amazing memories.
I realize what I will most miss are the times we spent together in this place. I will have those memories. I have those relationships and now will be creating new ones. We will get to discover new plants, new finds, and have new times in this new adventure.
I’m sappy and nostalgic. I think this is a quality of mine that makes it harder to move on to new things in life. I want people and relationships to stay the same. I know that’s crazy. People, especially the kids, need to grow and become what they are supposed to be. But, I’m realizing more and more that even though we grow older and change, our relationships are deeper for the times we have spent together. It’s not just one memory, house, log cabin, or piece of land that makes that happen. It’s ALL the events, memories, laughter, and even sorrow that grows us deeper in relationships. The places enhance this kind of growth, but are not the sole cause.
Well, I’m thankful for the chance to be a steward of this amazing land, but I’m finally ready to take the memories, love, and relationships with me to the future. I can’t wait to see what awaits me!
Goodbye Verbena! Hello Mistletoe (that’s the new name of our new piece of paradise)!