Hunkered Down in Pine Mountain, Georgia

The formerly peripatetic author may not have planned to make it a permanent home, but he and his family have lived in Pine Mountain, Georgia since moving there in 1974.

| January/February 1989

  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - author Michael Bishop
    Writer Michael Bishop with his cat on the lawn of the family home in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - butterfly house
    A view of Callaway's butterfly house.
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - Spivey's store
    It's worth a trip to Talbotton to visit Mr.Spivey's eclectic store.
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - Pat Hooten making pottery
    Pine Mountain Valley potter Pat Hooten works full-time at her craft.

  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - author Michael Bishop
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - butterfly house
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - Spivey's store
  • Pine Mountain, Georgia - Pat Hooten making pottery

The Bishops have hunkered down comfortably on Pine Mountain, Georgia. We've been here since shortly before Halloween, 1974 — or, at this writing, going on 14 years.

Raised the son of one air force man and the stepson of another, as a boy I was willy-nilly an itinerant, only rarely nesting longer than five years in any one place — whether Wichita, Tokyo, Cheyenne, or Seville. In fact, I hit puberty blithely assuming that after four or five years every family played location-rotation. For me, the mercantile boast "35 Years at the Same Site" means only that Ma and Pa Proprietor and their disadvantaged kids have probably never ridden the "bumpem" cars on the top of a Ginza department store or ambled through an Andalusian olive grove at the eye-stinging height of a Spanish summer.

It is therefore mildly amazing that I have now lived in Pine Mountain for almost a decade and a half. What has kept me here? What is it about this pecan-tree-and-sycamore shaded trackside burg that has converted me from a professional peripatetic to a fogyish stay-at-home? The answer — beyond the clear one that we've invested beaucoup hours, sweat, and hard-won greenbacks in remodeling a Victorian house once owned by my wife Jeri's grandfather, William Phelps Ellis, for nearly 40 years the town's beloved doctor — is simply that, hey, we really like it here.

This morning, small red ants were swarming on the hummingbird feeder—a glass cylinder sporting four bright red plastic blossoms—hanging from the kitchenside eave of our garage. I had to hose them off: The ants are an annoyance, but later today, the hummingbirds will return. The eggbeater blur of their wings, the blood spot at the male's throat and the metallic green jackets of their plumage will feed the eye even as the birds themselves feed.

Nor are hummingbirds the only winged creatures to visit, or to overfly, our hamlet.

We get jays, brown thrashers, mockingbirds, chickadees, goldfinches, gray catbirds, flickers, owls, starlings, cattle egrets, sparrows, butterflies and, near dusk, dive-bombing, chittering bats. Some cynical folks would append to this list pot-spotter planes — which, however, I'm reasonably certain are scarcer than the hummingbirds. Besides, thanks to the summer's drought, these eyes in the sky have been pretty squeaking scarce.

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