Friday, April 22, 2011

Living in the South ~ The WildWoods

When we relocated to Mena, we moved to a unique house located in a small woods a few miles outside of town. The property on which the house is located is as unique as the house. 
The house was built in the 1950s by a retired Military officer. He fell in love with the manor houses of Germany while he was there during WWII. When he came back to the states, he decided to build a house similar to those he saw. He built a 3800 sq ft cinder block house. All the walls are cinder block. Even the interior walls are cinder block. The layout is interesting and quite a few people have commented on how comfortable the house feels.  
(I even have a real Harry Potter under-the-stairs closet & Hubby is still looking for the hidden bunker that he just knows the original owner had installed.... )

The property is located next to a school which serves the small communities on the west side of the county. The original property encompassed several acres complete with an orchard, but as the school grew, they began to purchase some of the property for expansion. Eventually the school purchased everything - the house, the land and all out buildings. That's where we came in. The school was needing money for a paved track for track and field events. They put the house, outbuildings and two acres up for sale. And we bought it. The school kept 10 acres of the original property to keep in its natural state for an outdoor classroom. Our house is totally surrounded by that outdoor classroom. The kids of the school maintain the trails in the woods (outdoor classroom) and keep trash and dead-fall picked up. I have enjoyed seeing the kids ooh and aah over the things to be discovered in these woods. I can hear the band practice in the morning, and see the kids run laps through the woods (track practice) every weekday afternoon. And it gives me a good feeling to look at that track (I can see it from my backyard) and know that we helped with its installation. And the school has achieved a track championship every year since we moved here.

These 10 acres have come to be known as the WildWoods. They have been a source of amazement and enjoyment for me as well as the children at the school. I'm always up for a walk in the WildWoods to try and spy the first wild orchid of the season or watch as the grove of American Mandrake comes into bloom. These Wildwoods have also been a source of enlightenment. It is here that the trees taught me to listen. It is here that my spirit has run free and unfettered. 
The woods are a mixture of hardwoods and pine. A small creek is at the back edge of the WildWoods, separating it from pasture land. We've had a fox den up under a shed, a bat take up residence outside the backdoor, and even deer have been seen in the WildWoods (or was it possibly the Green Man?).  The trees speak to me with the rustle of their leaves on the wind and share their joy of Spring by bursting into bloom. I felt the trees pain one Spring when their branches were bent and broken from the weight of an unexpected wet heavy snow.

There is quite a variety of trees here in the WildWoods - Oak, Maple, Hickory, Walnut, Dogwood, Pine - to name just a few. They each have their unique personalities and rhythms. But the tree that has been a close friend, since the time we moved in, is a lovely Sweetgum tree that stands not too far outside our back door. She has provided us with shade in the scorching summer sun, glorious color in the Autumn, a buffet of seeds for the little birds in the winter months, and she is one of the first trees in the yard to show signs of Spring. I am going to miss these trees who have become members of the family.


Suzie said...

Your Wildwoods sound absolutely perfect, and when you have to leave, take comfort that the school will continue to maintain those woods, that they won't be lost to some developer!

And for yourself, gather the seeds from those various trees, and take them with you. Start the seeds in pots, and repot as they grow, until they are a healthy size to plant in the ground of your new Wildwoods.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The WildWoods sound idyllic! I'm sure you'll miss it very much but, like Suzie said, you're leaving a legacy for the school and all those kids!

Robin Larkspur said...

You write so beautifully about your home and the WildWoods. I know it will be painful to leave. Thankfully your memories and writings will keep the WildWoods alive and well, and new caretakers will continue the legacy. The excitement and anticipation of finding new woods and natural places will nurture your spirit.

Danni said...

Your Wildwoods sound so enchanting and magical; I love the way you've written about them.

I like Suzie's idea of taking some seeds with you when you move. Bring a piece of the Wildwoods with you. :)