By Randy Bearden
We searched for the perfect acre among a thousand. It was time to build our house and, this being a large farm, we had many options. There were only three requirements. 1. It needed to be in the woods. 2. It needed to be on the hill and 3. It needed to come with a view. We walked and talked and searched for weeks and then it happened … there it was. It was a pine tree grove in the middle of the hardwood forest. Quick growing pine trees surrounded by oaks, hickory, sweetgum and dogwoods. I knew they were out of place, these pine trees, and wondered why they were there but decided I would never know the answer and went on about the business of building a house.
The basement was dug, the foundation poured, and the walls were being built when my elderly neighbor stopped by. She said she heard there was a house being built here and wanted to see the place one last time. I listened closely, for I knew the mystery of the pine trees was about to be told.
Her father had cleared this acre someone hundred years before. He needed a cotton patch and believed that cotton should be grown in well-drained soil on the top of the hill. She said she’d spent way too much of her childhood here in the merciless sun, tending to the cotton, and was not sad to see it abandoned many years later. I live comfortably upon that acre now and think often of the things that have grown here. Of how it grew trees and then it grew cotton, only to grow trees again. I think of how my children grew up here as their parents grew apart and their father now begins the process of growing old. This house, in the woods, on the hill, with a view is beginning to show some age now. I suppose that, like most things, it will someday reach a point of disrepair and be abandoned like the long forgotten cotton patch. That will turn to dust and in its place, pinetrees will grow and someone will stand here and say “I wonder why these pine trees are in the middle of these hardwoods?”… and my elderly grandson Jack will say “My grandfather once built a house here – 100 years ago.”
Randy Bearden is a fourth generation dairy farmer from Vincent, Alabama. He can be contacted at www.shelclairfarms.com.