Speaking of houses, now that I have long faced reality and sought professional help to assist me in continuing to live in a ranch style brick house, life can go on. Seriously, for a while I was in denial. I would drive through neighborhoods of ranch style houses and think to myself, "Will I ever have to live in such? Why, I just cannot imagine." Then I would turn into my driveway and voila - I do live in one, like millions of other Americans across these fruited plains. But, I digress.
I have often posted about my parents farm in the mountains, High Acres, and my Mama's dream house that was never finished - a work in progress if there ever was one. Literally, there were unfinished parts when she sold it thirty something years after my parents bought it.
But, before the mountain house, there was a river house. An "upscale" (as in it had a floor and the roof did not leak) fishing shack on the Edisto River. There were five or six river houses around it, but ours was at the end of a road with a big gate across the drive. Having never had a gated house or even a garden gate for that matter, the large metal farm gate with its heavy chain and lock were impressive to my brother and me. It was big deal when it was your turn to jump out of the car, unlock the gate and hold it open for the car to pass through. We always thought the gate should be closed behind the car to protect the grounds from any unwelcome intruders. Daddy, on the other hand, wanted everyone to feel welcome.
There was a sign on the gate my parents hung when they bought the place. It simply read "NOWHERE". They always said one could interpret it as they wanted. To some it would be a welcome, as in you are "Now Here". To those who just knew they were lost and came to the end of the road, then they were "No Where" (Which was how we pronounced it.) Of course, my parents saw it as a retreat, and when friends asked them where they were going for the weekend, they simply answered, "No where." Those in the know would laugh.
"Nowhere" was a neat place. In sat on several acres that jutted out between the slow flowing black river and a dead creek. The house sat back about a hundred feet or so from the river and was most comfortable with a huge kitchen, two nice size bedrooms, a great room paneled in heart pine with a large fireplace, and a wide screen porch that ran across the entire front of the house. There was a giant magnolia tree hanging off the bank that a former owner had secured with cables to keep the river from claiming it. The yard was surrounded by tall pines and hard woods.
And, we were rarely there alone, Daddy had always invited someone down. There would deer, dove, or quail hunts in season. There was always fishing - red breast, catfish, and shad. It didn't take me long to realize what the huge kitchen was for - cooking all the fish and game we had everyday. If it were fowl or venison it was served with rice and vegetables. The fish was always dredged in corn meal and fried just right. And, lord the hush puppies.
After the sun set there was always a poker game going on in the den or on the porch, with much laughing and story telling. The cigarette smoke was thick as mud - and, God, the liquor and beer. There were coolers and refrigerators full of beer cans and counters full of bottles of bourbon and mixers.
My brother and I eventually found Nowhere boring because (looking back on it now) unless one drank like a sailor or played a mean game of poker, you were out of your element. However, for those who did partake in those vices - they truly were "Now Here".