Lying on a luxury queen-sized bed within a tent, one thought comes to my mind: ‘Can I get those cicadas to sing a show tune?’
Such thoughts also brought interior laughter at my odd request for nature’s top 40 singers. It made me realize I had left behind deadlines, bills, and problems as I listened to a summer song.
I arrived so tired, the bags under my eyes could go shopping on their own. Now was the time to indulge in what science is proving: nature calms us, body, mind, and spirit. The Japanese even have a term for it: forest bathing, where fresh air is filled with life-giving oxygen.
I had reached Selah’s Acres RV and Camping Experiences in Hazel Green, outside of Huntsville. Here, glamping means more than sleeping comfortably in the woods, as shown in the name. “Selah” dates to the Bible and means peace at the end of a passage.
Owners Mike and Meeka Stringfellow do not treat their guests as guests. Everyone who enters their domain becomes family. They invite you into the warmth and sanctuary of home. Along with their four children and Mike’s sister, Adrienne, the whole experience from arrival to a big breakfast is an open-arm adventure under the stars.
The Stringfellows have taken on a huge project—restoring a homestead and its environment. As they peel back the layers, they are discovering a natural wonderland. The privet in the woods yielded to a wetland that is home to rare native orchids. The field by the barn is filling up with butterflies, attracted to the spreading vines of passionflower. The purple and white flower of the vine is stunning enough, but add in the orange wings of Gulf Fritillaries, and magic begins. Nearby, a frog pond throbs with the croaking of lovelorn amphibians.
The family moved to this corner of paradise as a result of a dramatic quest for simplicity and nature. They vacated a 3,400 square-foot home and moved six people into a 34’ RV. Within that 340-foot interior, they grew closer as a family and as people of faith. According to Mike, “Those are my happy days when I could walk through the middle of the RV and kiss every child on my way.” Meeka loved the freedom of a minimalist life, emotionally and financially.
All of the family contributes, with the three boys aiding Mike in clearing the woods. Their daughter helps with breakfast. Adrienne shared her artistry by painting the tents in bright, cheerful colors featuring birds and flowers.
The tents are charming, with sparkle lights, glowing lamps, plump pillows, and large, comfy beds. Best of all, there is an air conditioner. And mosquito netting covering the door. All of it comes together for a good night’s sleep. In the adjoining RV is a bathroom and showers.
Café and picnic tables are dotted around the camping site. Guests can sit family-style with the Stringfellows, or choose a private table for two.
Committed to the community, they support local businesses. In the welcome package inside the tent sat (very delicious) chocolates and chocolate-covered strawberries provided by Chocolates by Julia, which are made to order. Little Blessings Bakery provided tasty cinnamon buns. Two Chicks on a Roll made a very credible Philly Cheesesteak sandwich that could compete with Philly’s own.
The whole enterprise is dedicated to Selah, the word David uses at the end of his Psalms. The pause to reflect. The time to take stock. The breath inhaling the scent of trees. The family displays a deep respect for life – in their guests and their land. As I walked through their woods, I found beautiful and unique plants, trees, and creatures. The Strongfellows embraced each new discovery as if welcoming a new friend. It is refreshing to see people who embrace all of life, from a half-inch orchid bloom to grown-up people seeking rest.
At Selah’s Acres, nature wraps you in its warm embrace. As you dream in its arms, don’t forget to slip out into the night to see the stars. And listen to the cicadas. You will return renewed, filled with vigor and the promise of a new day.
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(This story originally appeared on SoulGrown, an affiliate of Yellowhammer Mulitmedia)