Spring comes to Frog Holler •
By Ron Huff • We are having a beautiful spring at Frog Holler in spite of the current National Emergency. If you don’t believe it, ask the Fed Ex driver, our only regular visitor. The azaleas and dogwoods are really showing off. The grass is greening up and the pool is sparkling. Every day, weather permitting, we sit on the front porch around 5 p.m. and enjoy the beautiful view. We generally sit until the sun sinks low enough to flood the porch with blinding intensity and heat. If we can stand this for a few minutes, it melts into those beautiful rays of dusk.
We get some sunblock from a maple that we planted years ago, which is now at least 50 feet high. All around the house are visible and beautiful reminders of the landscaping that Charlotte has labored more than for 30 years. Beside the porch is a dogwood that brother Ricky planted 35 years ago, which has been cut back to prevent touching the house and which provides the shade for our beautiful front garden. Each year we watch as the perennials reappear, slowly at first, but soon with vigor. The Elephant Ears start out as babies and grow throughout the summer until they are huge by summer’s end. This cycle of life is forever reassuring and delightful.
As the pastures green, the sun plays on them in the late afternoon providing intense green to mix with the azaleas and dogwoods. The sinking rays glancing off the pine straw areas provide the tint of shiny copper. It is truly a feast for the eyes and it makes me feel each day that the never-ending work required to keep up the yard and farm is well worth it.
Since we are largely home bound, we have taken the opportunity to roam around the property more than usual. I spend countless hours working the fields and forested parts of the property but no one else, including Charlotte, even sees them. I often leave on the tractor or in the truck and am gone for hours beating back the never ceasing encroachment of nature onto my vision of what the farm is and can become. Much of this is thankless work but must be done. I will not live long enough to fulfill my vision, but I do fully appreciate what we have accomplished so far, and each year brings me closer to the ultimate goal.
Several years, ago we cleared a rugged, ugly patch of hardwoods surrounded by beautiful large longleaf pines near the house. Since that time, I have had to mow the area at least twice a year to keep the hardwoods from taking over again. I mowed this area a couple of weeks ago, earlier than usual, and revealed a beautiful grassy spring meadow. That evening I suggested that we walk over to the area at sunset. Though only a few hundred yards from the house, Charlotte had no idea how attractive this meadow was. She was just discovering this after 30 years. There are many other areas of the property that are obscured jewels.
In conjunction with our cattleman neighbor, we have cleared another eight acres of ugly, scraggly woods and will soon have a new Coastal Bermuda hayfield on which he will grow and harvest the hay for his prize-winning herd. I can’t wait to see that field, which slopes down to the creek that borders our property, alive with green grass where nothing but ugliness had been. These are the slow but wonderful rewards of persistent work.
Our son Riley has been home for a while during the pandemic and has been flying my drone, which is equipped with a high definition video camera. He captured Charlotte and me from above in the newly discovered meadow as he zoomed down to ground level. At several hundred feet of altitude, it can turn slowly 360 degrees capturing a stunning panorama of Frog Holler and its surroundings. From that height, everything is beautiful, and the areas that beckon for my intervention seem insignificant. Eventually it, and I, come down to earth.
I told my neighbor Gale Rotundo, in a moment of frustration, having let the horse escape while trying to do 10 things at once, that I had two lifetimes of work to do and only a few years to do it. A spring like this inspires me to keep at it!
Maybe we can have visitors soon!