We awoke the next morning with the sun already climbing high in the Alabama sky. The sent of the flower trees, honeysuckle, and pines was a welcomed trip down memory lane. Sophia had slept through the night after a little fussing and was still sleeping soundly. We had some of our things unpacked, we stayed in Alabama for five days, and were content to just enjoy the lazy southern morning. I went outside and found a black berry bush, the farm has hundreds of them all over the place, and sampled a few… they were delicious. I gathered another handful for Coco and just enjoyed the warmth and fresh air of the morning for a little while. On the farm the first thing you notice are the sounds. You can hear traffic, but you know it is a good 4 miles off. The assorted sounds of birds, insects, dogs barking, and people doing what every during the day filter through the woods giving only a hint as to which direction they originated.
I went back inside to deliver the berries to Coco and began getting things ready for breakfast. My mom had already started breakfast so I helped Coco with the baby and we went out for a quick survey of the front yard. Coco was amazed at the black berry bushes and was pretty happy to just pick the berries. After a few minutes we went back to enjoy a traditional southern breakfast of grits, bacon, eggs, milk and juice. We had already decided not to go overboard with the biscuits and gravely or two meats. After breakfast and cleaning up I took Coco around the farm. She loved the horses, they are a neighbors who leases the land for them. We went to almost all the pastures, there was one, the south pasture, we did not go into just due to time reasons. When we got to the pond Coco got to see a crane, some ducks, and of course the squirrels from the northern wood lot. The pond is still in bad shape, it is full of algae and turtles, and the drought of the season is evident in how low it was. We had a run in with one of the horses, a rodeo roping horse who decided to corral us for a bit before becoming bored with us.
The east pasture had grown up quite a bit and as I was trying to find more wild lime trees, there are a few on the farm, we jumped a doe. She was maybe 125 lbs and she bounded over the fence and into the thick woods as if it were second nature. Coco was shocked at the deer and seemed really delighted at the tour. The heat of the day was getting up there by now and we wanted to get back to Sophia. We left by the old hey barn and walked by one of the old original oaks of the place. There is only the one old oak that is still intact. One blew down in a hurricane 2 years ago, another in the hurricane 2 years before that one, and the remaining two were greatly damaged by the fire that destroyed the original plantation era home the year before my parents bought the farm and these two trees have never been right since then, they are mostly gray trunks and only have a few live branches left. After seeing the old ivy covered oak I noticed the fig tree was still there, but the figs were too green so Coco missed out on fresh figs.
Sophia was happily looking around and doing what she does best, waving her arms and making small content noises. My mom’s cats decided the baby was too much and were laying on the porch and steps, the way cats tend to do. We discussed our plans and found some maps and looked at our options. My mom needed to go to Selma for some things, before the businesses closed for the day, 5 PM, and we had to work around the fact the town I went to high school in, Camden, closes at noon on Thursdays. We would go to Selma in the afternoon, Camden Thursday morning, Greensboro Friday, Montgomery on Saturday, and end out the week in Birmingham as we had an early morning flight.
We got everything together, loaded up in the truck and I was able to drive again, it was becoming almost natural to be behind the wheel again. We did our business in Selma first, of course, and then went to the historic Water Avenue area to look at old building of the city’s riverfront. Selma was sacked during the War Between the States, there were a few places spared but not many and the economic depression of the ’80’s and ’90’s did not help the city either. Today it was a pleasant surprise to see the St James hotel had been fully restored, although not in its original location I believe, it was still a nice example of the history Selma has to offer. We strolled the river front on the way to the old home district, where many of the houses go back to reconstruction. The only homes sparred the burning of Selma were those used as Union command centers and barracks. It seems Selma was a lesson of what to do and not do on the way to Atlanta by General Sherman.
Coco loved the old homes and was quite curious about them. Some were for sale but their prices were not displayed so we could not tell how much they were going for. Some of the homes were fully restored, others in varying degrees of disrepair and needing work. The major problem though is lack of adequate industry in the area to attract the quantity of people required to buy, restore, live in, and care for these homes long term. The problem with many small southern towns like Selma is they are too far from any viable infrastructure to sustain an industry that could make the town viable and prosperous again. Sophia had been really good up to this point, but she was beginning to show the strains of the day. We had walked quite a bit and the heat of the day was typical Alabama for this time of the year. The sun was now sinking behind the magnolias and Spanish moss draped oaks and firs as we drove back to the main street. There is a small Chinese restaurant across from one of the oldest drugstores in Selma, so we stopped there to try the food. My mom has eaten at this place often so they know her. The food was good, Americanized which suited me well, and Coco chatted with the owners and seemed to enjoy the food and restaurant.
We headed out to see what was left of the old Selma mall, until I was 16 and had a car it was the largest mall I had ever seen. We looked at some clothing, picked up some nice outfits for Sophia, she even has to get oversized clothing in the US wearing a six to nine month size at just three months old. Coco looked at some dresses for her mom, mother’s day was just around the corner. My mom met a nice lady who had some experience with American and Chinese couples before and they had a nice chat while Coco and I explored the rest of the mall, it was much smaller then I had remembered and nearly empty. I could not find the restrooms but luckily my mom told me they were in the JC Penny’s were just shopped in. We left as the mall was closing and made it back to the farm without seeing any deer, which was unusual. Everyone was feeling tired so we headed of to bed.