If you think about it, I'm really not asking all that much. I really would be happy on 100 acres of land just inside the foothills of the Appalachians, preferably in East Tennessee or Western North Carolina. 100 acres covered mostly in a wide variety of century old trees, but with just enough open space to put up a real nice timber frame house and a quaint guest house to please the family. Ideally, it would have a good size cliff standing over a healthy river and a view looking onto other wide open spaces. Of course, what good is just a view of the river; it would also have to a decent trail down to the water's edge with enough gradient to get a good thrill on a mountain bike. If it had a spring so natural it would be the reason I lived to see 100 years...even better.
I would know the name of every tree and be able to identify every wild flower no matter the season. If a tree fell, say a white ash or walnut, I'd section it and lumber it because Beth would love a new dining room table . In one of the fields there would be single tree, a white oak, with branches reaching in every direction, the kind of tree Ansel Adams would take the time to photograph. This would be the perfect tree for the tree house. At the edge of the property there would be a huge birch tree with initials carved in it marking the beginning of a now well aged relationship. I would spend a little time every week gathering the mint and other edible plants that grow naturally and then Beth would use them to garnish a dish or make some tea. What didn't grow naturally would grow in the garden.
The land would have stories, some I would know, some I'll never know. It would provide some of my own stories that I would fondly recollect and tell to the grandkids. Each story would begin with "Have I ever told you about the time..." More than likely, I would have already told the story a hundred times, but the kids would listen anyway. Some of the stories would be told by the land itself, by the arrowhead left behind centuries ago, by the birds that fly through in the fall and spring, by the skunk who's been denning up in the old spring house, and by every other one of God's story tellers.
Believe it or not, there really is such a place just five minutes from my house. It belongs to my uncle and he will pass it down to his own two kids, and rightfully so. No, there is no timber frame house, or any other building except for the spring house which really is currently occupied by the skunk. There is no tree house, and no garden, but there are lots of tree and wildflowers. There really is a tree with the initials of a well aged couple who happen to belong to my other uncle and aunt. The cliff really does stand tall over the mighty Watauga, and there is a trail down to the water's edge. People talk about their secret or special spots, well, this might as well be mine, I really love being over there. I think one reason is its the best connection I have to my Grandfather, whom I've never met. It was his land before he sold it to my uncle. Sometimes I go over there with my uncle and he'll tell me all kinds of things while we walk around the property. He's told me about my grandfather, and how the old barn stood just there, and about the time a calf got it's head stuck in a tree and broke it's neck.
I was over there just last Saturday with a friend of mine. We rode our bikes all over. We saw turkeys, a deer, a skunk, and a box turtle. It was a great Saturday.