In my first exploration of the Missouri Ozarks, I was looking at a charming underground house that I thought I wanted to buy. They wanted $39,000 for three acres including the underground house, a barn they remodeled for 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 attorney a year before musing 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, and I realized then that I might be moving a little further than one county from the Wilder place where I wanted to be. Nothing was showing any promise for purchase.
When the underground house fell through, 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, and he ran to the file cabinet, came back, 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, the area started out as a hippie commune, but reality struck when they ran out of money and had to go to work. 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 that I grabbed to steady myself and started to slide on top of him, 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 little 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 email I had sent to her a year ago, 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 was going to be Walters’ Holler.
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.