LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

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When Buck and I bought the Sugar Shack, we thought the real estate market was at its lowest point. On the surface, it looked like a great investment: inexpensive bay front property with a knockerdowner house; the property could be subdivided into two lots and sold. Sewer and other city services are available. Seemed like a no-brainer. Take out a mortgage, rent it for awhile if necessary, and then sell. Nothing personal. Several things happened. The real estate market, even waterfront scarce as hen’s teeth, had farther to
fall. It hit with a thud, and has stayed there, with barely perceptible upward movement. Many houses that have been for sale for more than a year (or two) have turned into rental properties, and everyone is taking in each other’s washing, in a sense. So the Sugar Shack became, almost immediately, temporarily nonviable as an investment, either for rent or for resale. Buck and I thought owning the old place on Perdido Bay would be a short fling. Then we gave it an affectionate nickname. And then, we fell in love.

We spent the day there yesterday. The nice widow who sold us the home she and her husband had loved so much left almost all the furniture there. She remarried and moved to the mountains of Tennessee. We’re keeping what’s there, polishing, repairing, and where necessary, covering with a fresh throw.

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We cleaned, rearranged furniture, and replaced light bulbs yesterday, wondering what on earth we’re doing and having fun playing house. I could almost imagine the Sugar Shack as a place for the assignations of a couple long-married, only not to each other: a love nest. Buck watched his Florida Gators win a football game while lounging on a sofa and stealing glances at the white-capped bay. We ate chili and tortilla chips. Maggie staked out a spot and snored the afternoon away. I pulled out my black and white composition notebook and favorite blue pen. At half-time and again at sunset, Buck, Maggie and I walked down the sloping old concrete sidewalk from the house to the new dock. Halloween. Full moon rising in the east, long red sunset in the west, and a chopped up bay blown to shore by a strong north wind. We wrapped our arms around each other, sunlight in my eye, moon glow in his. Maggie pressed close to us, her golden eyes seeming to read our hearts.

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