Why? Valhalla! –by Nel and Jim Ahl

vallhalla

Hickman County TN

We too are Hickman Countians by choice. The road here was convoluted, but in retrospect, it was meant to be. In 1990 we began to realize that retirement was looming for us and though we thoroughly enjoyed living in the Washington, DC area, we also knew that was not where we would retire. We had two main goals in retirement:  live in and rural area and live near one child. Daughter in CA was still moving back and forth to the East Coast every other year. Son was settled in TN, swearing allegiance forever to his adopted TN home. Understanding the economics of living in CA versus TN (or the East coast), it was an easy decision to choose TN.

In 1993 we began looking in earnest for “pretty land” within an hour of Nashville. By 1995 we had begun to despair of finding just the right place. In 1995 following our annual visit to our son and in family (they lived just west of the Tennessee River) we decided to take country roads south of I-40 and end up finding the highway home in Nashville. Mousetail Landing State Park was just lovely. It made us want to rent a cabin and boat and stay awhile. Heading east, we took old Hwy. 50 East, first through Coble. The charming little store there provided our lunch and a chance to look around. Then continuing east we saw the gorgeous rolling hills and hollers and decided that wherever we were, that was where we wanted to find our final home. Coming into a little town we saw a real estate office just across from the county courthouse and went in.  It was then that we learned that we were in Centerville, the county seat for Hickman.

The real estate agent showed us one piece of land…nice enough, but no trees. Another piece of land required 4-wheels to get up in it so we had to be content to drive by. The brush was so high, it converged on our car from the top and both sides. We found where we wanted to live only to be disappointed to know there were only 2 pieces of land between 50 and 100 acres for sale in Hickman County. We sadly returned to our east coast home.

Thanksgiving found our son and his wife visiting with us. Talking about our disappointment in finding land, we asked our daughter-in-law to help us. After all, she was a native and her mother had grown up in Dickson. We gave her our priority list: 50-100 acres, pretty land, hills and valleys, water (preferrably a creek and a spring), forest and meadows, all within an hour of Nashville. Much to our surprise, she called the very next weekend and said she had found the place we wanted. In December the brush had lost its leaves and with her 4-wheel drive truck was able to visit this place.  It was the very land we had been unable to see the past July.

Our son pronounced the land pretty; our buyer’s agent said it was what we had been looking for; our daughter-in-law was thrilled that it fit every criterion we had established. We bought the land sight unseen. Diverting from a business trip to Atlanta, I signed the papers in March of 1996. We didn’t move here until 2000, but well before that our son and daughter-in-law had built a house and moved in! With their children and grandchildren nearby, we have become a multi-generational Hickman County family, just like all the natives! It just took just took us a few years to find Valhalla!

Having come from a DC suburb to Hickman County, one of the most precious things…

  1. An absence of sirens, noise of traffic.
  2. The abundance of wildlife, including birds.  We can entertain ourselves endlessly with the antics of the birds and wildlife around here.
  3. The beautiful vistas from nearly every corner of our Valhalla (that is the name we have given our property…more on that later).
  4. Since I am originally from Louisiana, southern cuisine was not a surprise.  However, comparing some of the differences in southern cuisine is a continuing discussion at our house.  For example, in LA we ate red beans and navy beans; we didn’t know what “white beans” were.
  5. Our neighbors are wonderful people, talented, intelligent, fun.
  6. Sitting on our back deck we see horses (our son’s) peacefully grazing and views into the distance that are breathtaking.
  7. Told we’d never be a part of the community because were “weren’t from here” proved to be untrue. We are fully integrated into the community and love having friends from young to old, rich to poor and everything inbetween.  We love the feeling of being a part of things here.
  8. The spirit of caring for each other is alive and well.  Note all the home-grown fund-raisers for children with cancer, folks in accidents, not to mention the coming together after the 2010 flood.
  9. The peaceful and safe feeling we have here.  In the DC area we always locked our car doors and hoped no one would knock out a window and steal our car anyway.  Here you can leave your car running while you skip into the grocery store and fully expect it to be sitting right in place when you return.
  10. I sort of like it that Hickman County and all its blessings are a well-kept secret. We are a little like the Scottish highland town of Brigadoon (a musical from the 1950’s) which comes alive once every 100 years, snags some more citizens and then settles back in to a somnolent peace.  I’m just glad we were snagged!

Oh yes, Valhalla is the place where Norse gods go after death. They have a beautiful place to live and plenty of food and drink so there is much happiness there.  Have you ever heard the expression “I’m so happy that I thought I had died and gone to heaven?” Well, that’s the idea of Valhalla.

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