In my first exploration to this area of the Missouri Ozarks, I was looking at a charming underground house I thought I wanted to buy. They wanted $39,000 for three acres including, the underground house, a barn they remodeled to be a rabbitry (cages included), and a cabin. It was a sweet deal. However, the owner and I couldn’t meet eye to eye on it.
We checked other properties; there just wasn’t the “right fit” for what I was looking for. Even in Missouri, my $40,000 dollars wasn’t going to buy much from the dilapidated places we visited.
I had written my social security attorney a year before that I wanted a place with 5-10 acres, a creek on the property, and a little house/cabin that was at the end of the street for privacy. As the week progressed on the real-estate expedition, my time was running out; I realized then that I might be moving a little further than one county away from the Wilder place. Nothing here was showing any promise for purchase.
My realtor said, “If you want something bad enough, you’re going to have to fight for it.” My reply? “That’s not my karma.” The realtor’s eyes lit up; he ran to the file, came back into the room, and threw a picture at me. “This place isn’t for sale yet. The couple is here to clean it out and get it ready to list. Back in the 70’s, it started out as a hippie commune, but some really nice people own it now. They are lawyers from California.” Well, he was a little bit off with the “lawyer” bit, but continued to jaw about the place on the thirty-minute drive through hill and dale.
We bounced along, down a really bad dirt road. The dirt disappeared and was replaced with waist high weeds. Doril got out of the car to open the cow gate hindering our passage. Down a steep hill we went. The car leaned far to the left. I was losing my grasp on the dashboard and started to slide, all the while thinking—Where is he taking me? Is the car going to topple over? It was a scary and exhilarating ride down to the cement bridge that covered a gorgeous brook, shimmering in the July sun. “Sometimes this creek dries up in the hot weather, I think,” Doril chattered on.
We pulled up to a garage in the middle of the forest. The owner had the doors open. I saw the woodworking bench that ran almost wall-to-wall. I was in love at the sight of it. I tapped Doril on the shoulder and whispered, “I want this place. Tell them I want to buy it.” I hadn’t even seen the house yet. But, the shimmering brook with the bugs playing in the daylight, and this magnificent garage where I could fix-up my fixer-upper, just melted my heart. It was a place I knew from my heart. I just knew I was home.
I went back to Greenwater, Washington, just 17 miles from the entrance to Mount Rainier, and wrote to my attorney as to what I had found. She sent back that original e-mail I had sent to her, the year before, explaining my hopes and dreams for my retirement. And, it was exactly what I had found, my private little house in the woods with five acres, and a little creek in the forest. This is Walters’ Holler.
I hope you enjoy my stories of the wildlife here. These animals are a big part of my family now. I feel so fortunate to have such a close bond to them. And, I know it is a place they can come to feel safe. That is a huge sense of relief to me . . . and to them, too.
Note: Holler—a holler is a deep depression in the earth, like a small valley, but could also be enclosed on all sides. Up North, in some places, it is called a hollow. In the South, to my knowledge, it is a holler.