This past weekend, MSB and I were down in Akron AL (LA – Lower Alabama for locals) visiting his brother, Jack and his wife Miranda. MSB’s family has owned property on the Black Warrior River for years. His father worked on the locks, as a lock tender, helping the huge barges going up and down the river. The barges are awesome, even without a load, they slide so smoothly through the water, big engines thrumming, negotiating curves and shallows with ease. Loaded with coal or whatever needs transporting, they’re a thing of wonder, sitting barely above the water level. The huge leviathans move almost silently from the head waters of the river ending up on the edge of the mighty Mississippi.
The bad part of the many barges passing by is that their huge engines, despite the care the pilots take not to get too close, are eroding the river bank. Every time we go down to visit, the edge of the river seems to be closer to the road than before. Of course, there is also the problem of flooding. There are pictures of the water coming up to the stairs on the trailer which is at least eight feet off the ground on stilts. Although I love to swim and enjoy boating, I cannot think of a worse way to die than by drowning. Fear of evacuation and worry about my technology is something I don’t need to add to my life!
Sunday morning, MSB and his brother, Jack, went fishing. Both enjoy being on the river a lot. They brought back a bunch of fish – croppies and catfish. I don’t know what croppies are, but I sure as heck know what catfish are … delicious!!!
Jack makes great catfish dinners whenever we are down there – which is nowhere near often enough. Why don’t we go very often? First, it’s a four hour one way drive (three and a half if I drive ;-)) Second, there is really not much for me to do. I don’t fish and I don’t do all the outdoor things MSB loves. I cannot typically even get an internet signal on my phone! Killer!!! I enjoy the company of MSB’s family, Jack and Miranda, but there is just not much for me to do. We used to have a blast playing poker in the evenings with two old pipe fitters … another story for another time! And then – there is an estranged brother who is less than a good neighbor.
When their father passed, he left the land he had purchased equally divided among his sons. Since Jack goes down all the time, he and MSB agreed to combine the lots their father left them in order to have a great view of the river from the trailer they put on the lot. Then MSB had visitation rights whenever he felt the urge. We had sometimes talked about moving down there when I retired, but we really did not want to live that close to the estranged brother.
Anyway, on Sunday, after the guys got home and got the fish cleaned up, a boyhood friend invited everyone down to his place for a party, featuring the freshly caught fish. As we drove the mile or so to the party, we were looking at all the fine homes and slum houses of people who only come down once in a while to have a restful weekend.
Some of them are owned by wealthy people and look like something out of a landscapers magazine. Those beauties sit right next to a crumbling old buildings and trash heaps owned by people who rarely visit. Everyone is pretty much live and let live.
As we came around a bend, we saw a small for sale sign on a chain link fence. The place was very well groomed and obviously cared for. My heart screamed, “OH HELL YEAH!” but my brain snickered, “In your dreams”. The property is on the east side of the river right on the water front. I’m anticipating many sunsets over the opposite bank! Not the main river where the big barges go, but a quiet side branch – no receding banks and higher than the flood line at the other place. No worries on either hand! Hurrah! There is a dock, a deck facing the water, tons of glorious trees shading the deck. I can see myself writing and sitting there chatting with MSB for hours, birds twittering all around! The yard is fenced almost all around. Even the lawn is beautiful. Plenty of flowers. A dream home for someone.
We drove on thinking the place would be, like most of the things we had checked out in the area, well beyond our means. During dinner, MSB conversationally asked our hosts about the sign. The hostess said there hadn’t been a sign there when she came home from church. Out of curiosity, their daughter drove the golf cart down and got the number from the sign. We called the owner and asked the situation. When he told us the price, we arranged to meet him the next morning.
The place was as nice inside as the outside. A trailer, not a house, but so well kept. Turned out that the owner, an older gentleman and his wife, wanted to sell half his property and would remain on the other end. They no longer come down often either. Because they were downsizing, they were leaving some of the furniture in the house as well. Can you say “CHA-CHING?” I’ll finally have a spare room for company … hopefully … if I can keep myself from creating a craft room AND an office!
We told him we wanted the place, but we’d need to go back to Dalton and see what we could do for funding. The owner said, since we were the first at the door, he’d hold the sale overnight for us and then he took down the sign. On the way back home, we made calls to our bank from the car (gotta love good cellphone service!) and were approved for the loan within minutes.
Just that quickly, we’re going down to sign the papers on Friday and will probably be in the place by 1 July at the latest. My daughter in Montana who has been asking me to come home for years will have to wait a little longer. I mean seriously! Everyone up North dreams of retiring in the South. Here I am in the South and thinking of returning to the wintry North land? Hmmmmm???? Right now, I’m at the “what the hell did we do” stage! I never thought I’d buy another house. I fully intended to end up in Montana soon but, when Fate steps up and slaps you on the back of the head, you pay attention! Both of us are very excited and feel like it’s the right thing to do. We’ll miss our wonderful landlords here and several friends as well as my doctor, dentist and nail lady, of course. But, when it’s time to move on, it’s time to go!
Update: we moved down a couple years ago. Such a great decision. Despite two tornadoes that barely missed us last year, this decision has been a great one!