For most people, moving to a new house is an adventure. There is an excitement about making changes to a new house to make it your own home. Different bedroom views, a different house plan, landscaping, and meeting new neighbors are all part of the adventure. For me, most of the moves that I’ve made have brought that same excitement. We are currently in the process of selling our house and buying a new one, but excitement and adventure are not the words I’d choose to describe the process. It’s not that I’m not excited about moving, the timing has just been tough. For me, this is the busiest time of the year, and that has made this move a little more stressful than the previous ones.
We’ve made this house our home. We brought two of our three children from the hospital to this house, and made some fantastic lifelong friends with our neighbors. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that felt a little melancholy about it. In all of the moves that I’ve made in my life, and there have been plenty, there is only one other time that I remember feeling this way about the prospect of leaving.
As most of you know, I was born in Laurel, MS. Until I was about three years old, we lived in a house in town. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember when we moved. We moved outside of town to a little three bedroom house in the Myrick community. The house was situated on a little less than five acres, if memory serves me correctly. It had a shop across the driveway from the house where my dad kept his mower and tools. It had a wood burning fireplace that was very cozy to lay next to during the winter months. There was plenty of yard for a young boy to play with his dog in, as well as a pasture next door. However, for an only child (my sister was born years later), the best feature of the property was the pond in the backyard.
The pond wasn’t very large, and technically we only owned half of it. There was a barb-wired fence that ran through the middle of the pond separating us from our neighbors’ cows. To me, at the time, that pond was plenty big. I credit this residence for sparking my early interest in the outdoors. We’d see the occasional deer, or turkeys, in the backyard every once in a while, but that pond is what molded me. I can remember standing in the driveway with a Zebco 33 Classic learning how to cast with a practice plug. When Dad thought I’d gotten the hang of it, he turned me loose to the pond. I also remember trying to learn how to cast my dad’s Abu Garcia Ambassador baitcast reel. That one took a little more time to figure out, and it’s likely the cause of Dad having high blood pressure due to untangling all of the bird nests that I created.
I spent nearly every waking moment during the warmer months fishing in that pond. I never want to say that I taught myself how to fish because that wouldn’t exactly be true. However, I figured a lot of things out through trial and error at our pond. I learned how to present my lure based on the weather and temperature. I learned what baits worked best for certain times of the year. I also learned that we have leeches in Mississippi after riding my Labrador into the pond one time. To this day, I think that’s the maddest that I’ve ever seen my mother. At night, there were times that I’d sleepwalk as a child. My parents had to deadbolt the backdoor after they caught me heading out fishing in my sleep one night.
My favorite memory of the pond came when I was four years old. I’d recently gotten my cast off after suffering a broken leg when a mirror fell on me in JC Penney. To this day, I still don’t know why we don’t own that store. When the cast was off, it was time to fish. Not that a broken leg stopped me from fishing, it didn’t. I just had to sit down on the pier, which was far too tame for me. With my cast off, I was free to roam the banks. My dad was at work and my mom was cutting grass so I grabbed my rod and went down to the pond. Using a purple Culprit worm, I made a cast toward the dam. As soon as the bait hit the water, the bass sucked it down. I was in the fight of my life, and thankfully my mom was watching. She hopped off the mower and helped me land the fish, which weighed 5.5 pounds.
After calling my dad at work, she snapped some pictures, and we took my catch to a local taxidermist not too far from our house. She sent the picture in to the local newspaper, the Laurel Leader-Call, and they published it not too long afterward. Little did my folks know, this was the start of an outdoor obsession.
We lived in that house until I was eight years old before moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ll never forget pulling out of the driveway for the last time. Even with the excitement of moving to a new place, my heart was broken having to leave my pond. Sometimes when I’m visiting Jones County I’ll slip out to that area and ride by our old house. From the street, the land doesn’t look so big anymore. The pine trees that I helped my dad plant are all grown, and the driveway where I used to ride my bike seems so short. As I pull away, all of the memories flood my mind and bring tears to my eyes. I’m not sure who owns the house now, but I’d pay more money than I’m willing to admit for one more cast in my pond.