Tis a gift to be simple. Tis a gift to be free.
Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.
– from a song, Simple Gifts
by Joseph Brackett
Charles Adams has the gift.
At least the gift to come down where he ought to be.
And, he knows exactly where he ought to be – "Just the woods, catfish and us."
"It took me six years of dreaming and planning to get where I ought be, but it was worth the long, hard journey," Adams said with a smile. "This is right were I’ve wanted to be for a long time."
Adams’1960 dream was to own a cabin so far back in the woods even the crows wouldn’t fly over.
Perhaps not many folks dream that dream and, probably, few folks long to be in the little blink-and-miss-it town of Texasville in rural Barbour County. Adams is glad they don’t. He likes the peace and quiet that comes with living the "good life." He likes lying in bed and watching the sun come up over the pond and stretching his feet out to the fire on a cold winter’s night. He likes sleeping on the porch in the springtime where a cross-breeze always blows and being serenaded by chirping crickets and deep-throated frogs.
Adams’ dream to be where he ought to be was a simple one–one that could be built around the chimneystack standing like a lone sentry in a rural land.
"This is the family home place," Adams said as he gestured across the 60 acres, where his dad, Sam Adams, built a small cabin in the 1960s. "Time, weather and varmints had their way with the cabin and it collapsed around the chimneystack. But the old chimney stood the test of time and was the starting point of my dream of a cabin where it would be just the woods, catfish and us."
Sam Adams’ baby brother, Elmer Adams, died in 2002 and left Adams the land where his daddy’s cabin had been and his house and two acres in Texasville.
Elmer Adams had been a member of the Texasville Volunteer Fire Department so Adams gave the two acres to the fire department and took down the old house.
"Uncle Elmer’s house was not in good shape, but there was enough good lumber in it to build the cabin I wanted on the family farm," Adams explained.
Adams is a stained glass artist in Pike County and he can visualize beautiful things. In his mind’s eye, he could see the cabin of his dream. His mind could imprint the blueprint.
"I knew exactly what I wanted," Adams said. "I wanted a huge great room with a fireplace and big kitchen–actually two kitchens, one inside and one on the porch with a woodstove where I could bake sweet potatoes like my granny used to do and where I could fry catfish and hushpuppies, and not worry if grease got on the floor. I wanted a porch across the front and the back. I wanted enough bedrooms for a house full of folks and bathrooms, of course. I wanted an upstairs play area for the grandchildren and a library/getaway for my wife, Mary."
That was a tall order for a man who was handy with colored glass and soldering iron, but a novice with a hammer and nails. So, Adams turned the blueprint of his dream over to "some mighty good help." With their skill and his watchful eye, six years later, the dream became a reality.
Adams’ 3,000-square-foot cabin is smack-dab in the middle of the family farm and overlooks two ponds teeming with catfish. The county line runs through the middle of the farm so one pond is situated in Barbour County and the other is in Henry County, so guests have a choice of two kinds of "cats."
The trench at the front of the house is the beginning of a moat that will one day have a waterfall "so you can hear the water running when you come to the cabin."
Guests have to cross a walkway to enter the cabin, which looks both old and new.
"Most of the lumber came from Uncle Elmer’s house and I like the look it gives the cabin," Adams said. "The catwalk between the library and the children’s ‘playhouse’ is made from two hand-hewn, 24-foot fat lightard beams from Uncle Elmer’s house. They are so big and heavy we had to walk them up the wall on a slide."
The large fireplace is a gathering place at any time because people are intrigued by the word, SPIO, carved on the fireboard.
"Spio was the name of this area at one time," Adams said. "Don’t know where the name came from but, when you’re here, you’re at Spio."
The Adams cabin is filled with conversation pieces, but none as unusual or as talked about as the butcher’s block and cabinet combination that takes center stage in the indoor kitchen.
"It was the examining table at (the late) Dr. Don Golden’s office in Brundidge. It’s a good counter and storage space, and we use the stirrups as holders for wine bottles," Adams said, laughing.
The cabin is an art gallery of sorts with Adams’s stained glass as part of the "exhibit."
Adams and his wife collect artwork and much of it from their artist friends. On one wall, is the work of folk artist Nancy Wilson of Gatlinburg and across the way is a piece from the collection from Adams’ cousin, the late Nancy High.
"Nancy worked with the American Embassy and traveled all over the world," Adams said. "So we have a lot of pieces from India and Africa, and people find it all interesting. This cabin has a charm about it because it has the touch of so many–our family and our friends. And, we enjoy having them here. We look forward to special days like New Year’s and the Fourth of July. We’ll have 40 more to come and the invitations always are to ‘come early and stay late,’ but we eat at noon and, if you’re not here, we start without you."
And, when the day is done and all of the friends have said their ‘goodbyes’ and ‘y’all comes,’ Charles and Mary Adams happily find themselves for awhile with "just the woods, catfish and us."
Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.