Amber

There is no more hideous creature than a grandaddy long-legs. 

I cringe at the mention of those long, gangly, ridiculous limbs. Those bulbous pink pin-cushion bodies...they are the stuff of nightmares. They don’t even have the good sense to be a real spider, these clumsy harvesters of souls. 

Those that know me are rarely surprised by whichever hair-brained thing I’ve come up with from one day to the next. 

I’ve dropped everything and run to other countries, continents really, but we’re not arguing semantics. I’ve created a million small business models that I never bothered with beyond conception. I’ve written a dozen books in my head. I’ve learned crafts that I quickly forgot, forgot to finish projects that were once so worthwhile, and walked in and out of a million lives. 

That sounds sad but let’s be honest...I’m okay with it. 

The essence of all this is to say that I’ve planned my life and its twisted path in a million different ways, and never once did any of those paths end in a wooded grove with a bubbling, spring-fed creek, and the deepest sense of calm I’ve ever experienced. 

None of these imagined realities included the grandaddies. 

Desperate to escape the drudgery and indentured servitude of a normally-lived life, my beloved Sasquatch and I decided to head into the wilderness that I had forgotten. 

After the debilitating loss of my grandparents, a bit of time elapsed before their will was probated, and the homestead left behind was drawn and quartered. That ‘bit’ being more than a decade, and in case you missed it in your endeavors to never look up from your phones or away from your televisions, an awful lot happens during a decade in the woods. What was once flat and open doesn’t remain so, no matter how much my mind protests. A garden turned into a forest in the blink of an eye. A path packed hard and dry under the tread of that old red Ford was no more. These acres that were once so familiar were now an entirely new world, one filled with pine needles and black locust thorns long and sharp enough to impale the thickest of us. A world overrun by briars and secret spider webs spun between branches waiting to ensnare faces. A world of nighttime eye shine that doesn’t match the creatures you know and love and somehow in the dark, the sounds made by nature’s kleptomaniacs are oddly similar to Wilbur’s aggressive cousin. 

Nothing about me screams forest-dweller. I’m not a small girl, so I take up space that others don’t, physics and anatomy don’t function on the same level, and uncomfortable temperature fluctuations can very easily lead to death...of those around me. I’m addicted to my PS4 and Skyrim and matching games on my phone. I enjoy flushing toilets and hot running water, and very clearly, air conditioning is a necessity. 

So, what in all that is Holy led me to believe living in a camper in the middle of these woods was a good idea? I’ll tell you what...I forgot. 

I forgot that trees grow...a lot. I forgot that gardens don’t tend themselves. I forgot that those 40 acres were alive even though my sun-baked and grizzled old Pa wasn’t. 

When my mother threw the deed to her 10-ish acres down before me and said, “Pick your half,” my heart lept. 

Finally, I’ll have something of my own. We can build our own home. We can have our own garden...and chickens! My clowder can be safe from the ravages of Highway 84 and that drunken, sadistic, idiot next door! 

Pinterest exploded in my mind, and yet another life plan sprang into existence. I saw white barndominiums with giant doors. I smelled delicious recipes cooking swiftly, and completely, in my Insta-Pot. I pictured sofas with velvety throws and deep tubs with bubbles and well-manicured and weeded raised gardens with a symphony of colors and flavors just waiting for my harvest. I imagined my small office with cozy chairs and fluffy cushions, the perfect setting to relax and write one of those dozen books floating around in my dome. 

Oh, that path was bright, and it was glorious, and somehow it was easy, and then we took our heads full of plans and actually walked the land that my mother handed over to me, and I remembered so much. 

Then I remembered that I’m totally out of shape. I remembered that people do often die only feet away from a heavily-walked path. I remembered that grandaddy long-legs, those spindly harbingers of insanity, were a real thing and not an imagined terror and that briars love ankles, especially swollen ones. I remembered wild hogs and the yips of coyotes. I remembered raccoons and their nimble, little, thieving hands, and I remembered how far I was away from a restroom. I remembered chainsaws and my sweet Sas’s half-broken back. 

Then I remembered how strong is my urge to have a home of my own that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life paying for. I remembered wanting to grow old with my Sasquatch and sit happily gazing at the setting sun over our little patch of Heaven, with healthy, happy kitties as far as the eye can see, and none of the rest mattered. I’m not a bad wife...the back mattered. 

And here I am, now living amongst the trees. My very own carpet of pine straw and red dirt and my very own gurgling crystal clear creek in my very own little corner of paradise. My tiny tin can oasis may not have the ultimate in bathroom experiences but man, my soul feels good. 

Y’all wealthy yahoos pay good money for hot tubs and scenic vistas...I’ve got a bathtub over a fire outside in the trees. Fair warning to those that know they are welcome in my bubble, don’t show up unannounced at nightfall because when the tub is a-boilin’ you’re guaranteed an eyeful of something you won’t ever forget. For those that know they aren’t welcome...Castle Doctrine, baby. 

It’s full-blown white trash, pioneer heaven and I have never been so content...and then I remember. 

Grandaddy long-legs. 

Amber Lollar is the senior reporter for The Henderson News. Her e-mail address is <reporter@thehendersonnews.com>.© 2021, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

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