When I was about six years old, my family moved to a bigger house on a large plot of land. Somewhere in the middle of Wildwood, GA, coming up to just shy of nine acres. My sister and I were adventurous at heart so naturally one of our first missions at the new house was to explore the land. There was a ridge on our property that, at the time, felt like Mount Everest.
It was a towering beast and we were dying to climb to the top. So one day we decided to do just that. Easier said than done right? The first obstacle to overcome was crossing into our neighbor's horse pasture to get to the base of the ridge.
The next obstacle involved barbed wire, luckily we found a spot where the wire had some give and we managed to slip through with ease. The vines on the other side were intricate and overwhelming, filling us with the notion that we had stepped through a teleportation device and into a jungle. The trees seemed to tower all the way to the sun, that's how tall they felt. And then there was that ridge – towering above everything else.
We arrived at its base, which sort of melted into the ground like a dollop of ice cream left in the sun too long. We began the hike with our dog, Rosco, leading the way. The more we trudged the steeper and more difficult it got.
My sister and I were firm believers in the walking stick so anytime we went exploring we took one with us, or we picked one up along the way. As the ridge started to get steeper and steeper we would stab the stick into the slanted ground and make a step for ourselves.
When we finally reached the top, we were exhausted, our shoes were covered in mud, but Rosco had raced to the top to be our welcoming committee. What I saw when I reached the top was a gift. There were cows grazing, others were sleeping or lounging around.
Even as a six-year-old, I realized that this was a special moment, one that I would remember. We had brought a lunch box full of snacks and juice boxes with us and stayed there until the sun started to go down.
We started to walk back down and realized we'd made the perfect path for ourselves. When we got back to our yard I just fell to the grass, equal parts exhausted and elated. For the first time in my life and in a new place, in a new house, I felt at home.