Tuesday, February 11

The Head vs. the Heart - By Janie DeVos

     


     A couple of years ago, my husband and I bought a little cottage in Beaufort, SC, which I blogged about in a piece entitled, “My Big Girl Pants”, (found on my website at www.janiedevos.com). The cottage was a picturesque little low country-style home, with dormer windows overlooking the front porch lit by quaint little oil lamps mounted on each side of the front door.  Magnolia and moss-laden oak trees shaded the teeny-tiny yard, and the marshes that teemed with all forms of wildlife were just a block behind us.  The cottage was considered a little get-away place, but there was a practical purpose for buying it; the three-story log cabin we presently live in high in the Blue Ridge Mountains will become harder to manage as the years roll on, and our aging hips and knees will undoubtedly rebel.  Another of our practical reasons for purchasing the cottage was that it’s on level ground, meaning that we wouldn’t have to navigate a driveway that is pitched at a near ninety-degree angle, like the one at our mountain home is, oftentimes making it a deadly Slip ‘n Slide from December to April.  Though we were nowhere near moving to our little vacation home for any large chunks of time, much less permanently at that point, it was meant to provide us with some peace of mind knowing that it was there for us whenever we needed it.  “We really used our heads”, we told each other.  The only trouble was we forgot to consult our hearts, as well.

Each time we drove to Beaufort, my heart sank a little lower along with the topography of the land.   Once I stopped seeing mountains surrounding me, or the “Bridge ices over before road” signs, I got a little quieter.  And as I helped unpack our 4-wheel drive Jeep that seemed out of place in the low country among low-slung cars, I silently counted the days until we could go home again while still feeling as though we were getting enough use out of the place to warrant having it.  People in our new neighborhood were friendly, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about all of our friends back in the high country that we'd spent thirteen years making after leaving our native home of Miami.  Those friends have become family to us, and I missed them.

Standing in the teeny-tiny yard, I thought about our sixteen-plus acres back in the mountains that give us plenty of room to stretch out in, alongside turkeys, deer and bear.  In our darling low country home, however, you can toss a rock to your neighbor’s house, making the loud and long howling of our Basset hounds very unpopular in our quiet-as-a-mausoleum new neighborhood.  All that aside though, my husband and I figured that we would appreciate the ease of being out and about during the months between December and March, when mountain outings can be fewer and farther between, and, undoubtedly, more treacherous.  But, as I sat on our screened-in porch in Beaufort, listening to the news coming out of Savannah, and heard about the heavy snow blanketing the area where our log cabin is, I regretted the fact that I wasn’t back there to see it, to feel it, to hear the quiet of the land as it slips off to sleep beneath that blanket of snow, lulling those who live upon it to settle down along with it.

Summers in the low country were another matter altogether.  Temperatures soared as if to punish everyone, and if that wasn’t enough, the marshes rubbed saltwater into the wound by laying a humidity-soaked blanket on top of each living creature caught within its oppressive reach.  One August afternoon, after enduring near-hundred degree temperatures and hundred-percent humidity, I informed my husband that we’d obviously died and gone to Hell.  I also informed him that coming back to the low country during the summer would never happen again as long as I had breath enough left in my sweat-drenched body to scream a definite and defiant “NOOOOOOO!”

Finally, after two years of trying to pretend that I was glad we’d done the practical thing in buying the cottage, I turned to my husband as we drove home from another obligatory trip and softly told him that I just didn’t love it there.  I felt terrible finally voicing it out loud, but it came as no surprise to him.  In all honesty, he wasn’t sold on the place either, even though he loves the heat as much as cockroaches and orchids do.  “Let’s just sell it,” he replied matter-of-factly, and I sighed with relief, never loving him more than at that moment.

After many miles traveled on the interstates of North and South Carolina, and after many dollars spent, I learned a great lesson: The grass may be greener on the other side at times, especially during the months of November through April, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when one is homesick. It doesn’t mean much when one longs to be back in a place that isn’t easier on the knees or hips, but is on the heart and soul.

We sold the cottage on December 13th, and next week we’re closing on a piece of land thirty miles south of us on Lake James.  It gets less snow than the high mountains do, has easy access to all of the basic necessities in life; including a variety of stores, restaurants and healthcare facilities, and has a view of the lake that takes our breath away.  We’re already underway with house plans and have hired a builder.  And, in an irony of life, it turns out that our new piece of land is smack dab between two friends’ pieces of land we’re in Rotary with.  Yesterday, I was back at the land dreaming about where our master bedroom would go, and where our new screened-in porch would be.  Then, I looked out at the mountains in the distance and smiled, glad that they are well within reach of our new practicality—a practicality that involved not just using our heads this time, but making our hearts an important part of the equation, as well.

10 comments:

  1. I love this post! I kind of identify with it because, sometimes, I think about moving away from my town which has gone from being a town to a major city during my lifetime. And with that comes crime, homelessness, high cost of living and housing...sometimes I think of just selling and driving away...but, this is my home, my heart.

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    1. And the home is where the heart is, dear Margie.

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  2. I love this, too. I just watched a video of my kids slipping downhill on their driveway there in the high country with you, and my heart is still in my throat, but it's always necessary to be where your heart is--your head is often wrong. A great post, Janie.

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  3. Thanks, Liz. It's so true about our heads often being wrong.

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  4. So glad your "in the future" home will still be close enough to visit. After all, Christmas Eve is a tradition that shouldn't be affected by distance.

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  5. And now it won't be!!! It's a tradition we're going to keep!

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  6. I'm so happy you found a place that feels like home for you. And how exciting to get to build your dream house so close to the mountains you love. Since I've lived on flat prairie all my life, I get nervous around mountains, but hey, to each her own!

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    1. Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?
      Thanks for your sweet words.

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  7. It sounds like you have found a beautiful place. It's hard to admit making a mistake especially when it involves a large purchase. Good luck with your home build.

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    1. That's so true, Jutta, and it took me awhile to voice my misgivings. But, keeping it in got harder with every trip we made.

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