It isn’t much by worldly standards, just five acres half a mile off a county road with a “manufactured home” on it. But it isn’t square footage and high end building materials that make a home. Would you like a tour?
Over to the west sits the doghouse Keith and the boys built together. It has housed six dogs and three cats now—you see, it is an original design, the cats had the second floor of this special pet condo. A bright green swing hangs under the grape arbor. Keith built the arbor and Lucas made the swing in high school shop class. I make muscadine jelly with the grapes—Welch’s doesn’t even come close. A live oak shades us from the afternoon sun-- Nathan fell out of it one Saturday while on the rope swing and broke his arm. Daylilies bloom bright as a yellow sun in a bed I dig up every five or six years, thin out by giving the excess bulbs to friends, and then replant.
Off to the southwest a blueberry patch furnishes us with pies, cobblers, jam, muffins, and pancakes every May. Beyond it a wooded acre includes four huge live oaks growing so close together that two little boys can barely fit between them. But this “fort” gave them plenty of cover from wild Indians and assorted other bad guys.
The open field lies to the south, a place that has seen hundreds of football, basketball, and baseball games. Croquet played on a green tabletop lawn? Forget it. We played “ultimate croquet” with slopes, molehills, armadillo holes, paper plate sized sycamore leaves, pine cones, twigs, and other assorted obstacles. It was a whole lot more interesting.
Off to the southeast sit the old pigpen and the site of the old chicken pen, where the boys learned how to take care of dependent animals, and where the food we eat really comes from. They also learned that there is a good reason to keep the pigpen way out to the southeast!
The garden has moved a few times as we not only rotate crops but entire plots as well. It was another source of learning—about sowing and reaping, about growth, about hard work, about sharing. To the east the creek, which is actually a run, now sits dry as a bone because of the several years of drought, but when the boys were young it always had water in it and they took a dip every so often on a hot summer afternoon.
Isn’t it odd how something that is not that valuable to anyone else can mean the world to you? I think we have lost that in a society that no longer even furnishes much of a yard for children to play in. I hope that does not make us lose the impact of some of the descriptions of Heaven, especially those that depict it as a re-creation of the Garden of Eden.
I will one day have to leave this place, but that will be a difficult day. I once had some roses, big beautiful bushes weighed down with pink and white blooms all summer. But between the Storm of the Century in March ‘93, the several years of drought, and the natural bacteria in the ground in this area, they have gradually faded and died.
You know that old song, “Where the Roses Never Fade?” One day I will have my “roses” again, and they will never die, and neither will we. And we will never have to leave.
And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of the street; and on this side of the river, and on that was the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more, and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there, and his servants shall serve him and they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be night no more and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun for the Lord God shall give them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Rev 22:1-5