Log Rhythms: The Reserve…

Sunset on Serenity

Sunset on Serenity

I was not looking forward to a trip to East Texas in October 2014.

My brother’s best friend wanted to dedicate a park he had created on some property he was developing and he invited my other brother and my family to be at the dedication. I was not looking forward to it for several reasons:

  1. I was just getting to the point where I wasn’t sobbing incessantly about losing my brother.
  2. The event would be attended by people I had never met except for my brother’s best friend, my other brother and my hubby. I’m an introvert in such situations by nature and awkward when I try to fake being an extrovert. Add grief to the equation and I’m doubly awkward.
  3. My allergies often send me to the ER for anaphylaxis. These are costly and threaten my very existence. I wouldn’t be where I already knew the doctors and hospitals if that happened…not bueno for me, since my health adventures defy typical medical scenarios.
  4. The Reserve (the development where the park was being dedicated) was full of lakes and a wide variety of trees, bushes, etc. Translation? It could be my allergy tomb! Mold is often around bodies of water; I’m allergic to all kinds of dust, grasses, weeds, and tree pollens.

I just wanted to be done with this trip. Little did I know that it was about to change my life.

You need a little background here–The hubby and I had made a deal when moving to our tiny town in Central Texas. I insisted on being “in town”– close to the schools, churches and possible friends for our two young children, then 5 and 2. This did not make the hubby happy–he’s a farm boy and loves to have wide open spaces around him and a place for cows to graze and a barn for said cows. Thus, in-town living has never really been his thing.

I made him the deal that when all the kids could drive themselves wherever they needed to go, we would think about moving to the country. Convenience would no longer be an issue for me–and we have lived outside of town before and I have learned to plan ahead for grocery needs and other in-town errands.

We settled on a 1-acre lot in town with a, get this, pasture right across the street! No kidding. Right in the middle of the sub-division. We basically built my dream home there and have been happy there for over 23 years. It’s pretty much the only home our kids know and remember.

So, beginning in 2012, after the youngest began to drive on his own, we began looking for rural property. We wanted something closer to DFW for the ever-traveling hubby, yet close to our little town where I had doctors who had lived through all of my weird diagnoses with me and where we were in love with our little church family. We also decided we wanted something on a hill overlooking the wide expanse of Texas sunrises and sunsets and vistas.

It was an exercise in frustration–we’d find a great view and it would be in the wrong direction from DFW. We’d find a great view and the house was falling apart. We’d find a great location and it wouldn’t have the view we had hoped for. We’d find a great location and we’d realize that getting water at that location would be nearly impossible–a common problem in drought-risky Texas. We’d find all of the things we wanted and the price would be way more than we could afford. You name it…there was always something keeping us from making an offer.

East Texas is not exactly known for hilltop vistas–it’s the forested part of Texas and thus, it’s often difficult to see those vistas/sunsets we hoped for. But, as we entered the Reserve, and wended our way around the perimeter dirt road, we were met with beautiful fall foliage of every color and a forested part of Eden that so reminded me of living in Virginia.

The beauty of Virginia is hard to beat. Bright oranges, vivid reds, and sunshine yellows greet you everywhere in the fall. It’s a southern New England foliage-wise. In the spring dogwood and brightly-colored azaleas grow everywhere without much effort. The summertime forests are a deep, lush green. In the winter, pansies abound because it’s just southern enough to foster their growth. Add to that majestic mountains unspoiled by civilization, panoramic lakes, colonial architecture, and a welcoming population, and you have my earthly version of paradise.

I have been to East Texas before, but I had never seen anything like the Reserve even remotely close to anywhere in Texas. The only negative? It’s on flat ground, so there’s not a single hilltop vista anywhere. Upon arriving at our host’s home, we were greeted by a majestic log cabin sitting on a tranquil lake. The only thing disturbing the lake was the occasional fish bobbing up to the surface or a mama duck swimming with her ducklings neatly in a row or a heron crane or hawk taking off in flight. Heron cranes in the middle of Texas? Yep. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I’ll let you in on a secret–the hubby has always wanted to build a log cabin. Another secret? I have always wanted to have a lakeside home. I’m a water baby at heart. Every home site at the Reserve requires a log cabin or timber home. About 2/3s of the lots are lakeside.

But, there were no pastures/or barns nearby and it would be difficult to see a sunset/sunrise from this beautiful place. So I didn’t express my enthusiasm to my hubby. And one more thing called to me about the Reserve that I didn’t expect.

My brother had purchased a part of the Reserve with his friend in the early going. He had a lot of happy memories on this place–camping with friends and clearing debris and paddling canoes on the lakes. And since my brother chose to be cremated, I had no grave to visit when I felt sad about his passing. It was a loss I hadn’t expected, since my parents chose to be buried at a national military cemetery with carefully-groomed tranquility and beauty all of its own.

My brother’s best friend had a metal sign created to be posted where the park began and on it was my brother’s name. Below it were buried some “artifacts” from his life. I knew it in a moment: This was, essentially, my brother’s gravesite. He would have requested to be buried here, had he elected to be buried.

I was getting even more depressed when I realized I’d probably never return to the Reserve after the park’s dedication and the Reserve is a gated community, so I couldn’t even wander inside to visit the park if I had wanted to.

Just as I was about to burst into tears about all of this, the hubby shocked the livin’ tar out of me: “Let’s jump in the Kubota and tour the home sites.” What? Really? I tried not to get too excited, because this could just be my hubby wanting to have some fun on a Kubota out in the country.

We flew down the dirt road, stopping in at every home site and navigating our way to the back of the lots (lake- or creekside, depending on the lot). Several were breathtaking, either for tree foliage or lakeside view or both. The hubby shocked me again.

“I really like it here. Do you?”

What? No way! I said, “Yes, I do, too. Are you okay with not having a view?”

“I think I am.”

“I think I am, too.”

Soon we were back on the Kubota again, this time with a price list in hand to guide us to the unsold lots. We marked down several that we liked and promised our hosts we would return.

A few months later we asked the daughter and hubby to accompany us and tell us if they thought we were nuts. Our DSL put it best right upon hopping out of his car at the cabin:

“If you were hoping we would tell you not to do this, then you invited the wrong people here.” And this was at a time of year when all the leaves were off the trees and the Reserve was definitely not at its prettiest. It was also during a drought, so the lake levels were severely down.

Both of them joined us on the Kubota and we narrowed down our favorites. We returned in late January of 2015 with the hubby’s parents. While we were more intrigued by the lots on the bigger lakes at first, two were calling to me on a tiny lake at the northern end of the Reserve–they were the only two on that lake so the owners would basically have a lake to themselves. One of the lots was sold, but the owner wanted to sell it. An idea popped into my hubby’s head: What if we bought both lots on that lake?

Say what? We narrowed the list again and it came down to those two lots or buying the best lot on the property at the other end of the Reserve. We ended the day at one of the northern lots and sat on the back of our SUV, talking it over. And then it happened.

The sun set right across from us, casting its orangey glow onto the lake in a near-perfect reflection. A sunset visible even in a forest!

A plan slowly emerged–clear the sold lot first (It was already partially cleared.). Build a “starter cabin” on that lot–one with a lot of handicapped-accessible features for our aging years. When built, we’d live in that cabin on the weekends as we cleared the land on the other lot (The sunset lot!), and build a more elaborate two-level home.

At that point, we’d have to sell the central Texas home and move to the Reserve full-time to fund the 2nd log cabin. But with the smaller cabin, we could move right away! And one day, if the sunset lot home became too much for us, we could move back into the starter cabin. By that time our children might be ready to move full-time to the Reserve and keep an eye on us.

2015 has been full of activities to get the land ready for that first cabin. We now have water and electricity running to that lot and a rather large hole to make room for a 3 bedroom cabin facing the lake. The plans are finished, the log supplier has been selected (a longer process than one would think) and we have a start date for construction. We even have names for the lots.

The name of the lot for our first cabin was already named “Solitude.” The sunset lot had a name that I didn’t particularly like, so this writer has now renamed it, “Serenity.”

The builder will start on the Solitude cabin later this month or early in May. Oh? And those infamous allergies of mine? They only rear their ugly heads once in a while at the Reserve (miraculously) and I’ve learned how to give myself allergy shots.

So, the bottom line? We can’t wait to watch logs going up (We will have a log raising event for all who are interested). And yes, we will be doing a lot of the work ourselves–our entire family. The oldest son has even proposed to his girlfriend on Serenity (complete with his sister and brother-in-law hiding on Solitude to capture the moment digitally) and my daughter-in-law-to-be now has her own reasons for loving the Reserve. 🙂

Want to hear more? Log Rhythms will periodically “crop up” on MIP on Fridays in between Maizie’s “pawprints” and those monthly Slow Reader posts. Questions? Go!

Share This Post
This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016 at 12:15 pm and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. April 2nd, 2016 | Ann smith says:

    What a lovely story!

  2. April 7th, 2016 | Liesa says:

    It’s been so great to work in the land with you guys and make memories. 🙂 Even if Dad’s antics can be a little over-achieving in nature… (pun for the win!)

  3. April 7th, 2016 | maryann says:

    We can’t thank you two enough for all of your help! And we got a very lovely thank you from the “hosts” last week about what you did to help with the Reserve Open House!

    The schedule is being drawn up for commencing the “build”!

leave a comment