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 three requirements: It needed to be in the woods; it needed to be on a hill; and 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 grove in the middle of the hardwood forest. Quick-growing pines surrounded by oak, hickory, sweet gum and dogwood trees. I knew they were out of place–these pine trees–and wondered why they were there, but I decided I would never know the answer and went on about the business of building a house.
The basement was dug; the foundation was 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 some 100 years before. He needed a cotton patch and believed cotton should be grown in well-drained soil on top of a hill. She said she spent way too much of her childhood here in the merciless sun, tending to the cotton, and she was not sad to see it abandoned many years later.
I live comfortably on that acre now and think of the things that have grown here; of how it once 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 a hill, with a view–is beginning to show some age now. I suppose that, like most things, it will reach a point of disrepair and be abandoned like a long forgotten cotton patch; that it will turn to dust. And in its place, pine trees 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, a hundred years ago.”