For seven months of the year, Priscilla and Jim Taylor live the life they had always dreamed of on eight wooded acres in Nancy, Kentucky. After retiring from two demanding careers (Priscilla as the dean of nursing at San Bernardino Community College and Jim as a high school athletic director and football coach), the slow pace of their second home in Appalachia is a welcome contrast from their former busy life in the San Bernardino region of southern California.
Nancy, Kentucky sits close to Cumberland Falls and Somerset in Pulaski County and was where the couple honeymooned in 1966. The Taylors were high school sweethearts at Manual High School in Louisville, so the nostalgia of Kentucky has always pulled at their heartstrings. Now living in Nancy, the couple is pulled back to their beginnings, free from the stress of their productive years in California, and finally free enough to spend long summer days in one another’s company.
Each morning they sit on their wide front porch and watch the animals go about their business – deer graze, butterflies flitter, birds lilt, and their lab relishes rolling around in the scenic landscape of their property.. They venture into town on a one lane road to work out at Planet Fitness three times a week. They take day trips down long country roads or to Gatlinburg or Berea; they meet high school friends for lunch in Lexington. They work the land together and talk to neighbors, trade fresh green beans, tomatoes, and zucchini at harvest time. They take their dog on long walks and enjoy the simple pleasures that surround them.
“My husband coached for so long and [football] was always on his mind, even in the summer. He can relax now – he knows the names of flowers and birds, he feeds the deer which eat us out of house and home! We call him the Martha Stewart out here,” Priscilla says.
It is a life motivated by togetherness, nature, and simplicity that they celebrate from April to November 2 each year, a firm date dictated by the end of the pumpkin harvest and their beloved deer. On November 1, after the Halloween pumpkin picking frenzy closes for the season, Jim and the neighbor collect all the leftover pumpkins from a nearby farm – sometimes 50 or more pumpkins – and haul them out to Jim’s land where the neighbor cuts a few open with an ax throughout the winter for the deer to feed on in their “deer haven.” After the annual pumpkin haul, the Taylors pack up and head back home to winter in their southern California homestead where they spend five months reconnecting with their children and grandchildren.
The Taylor’s other life in the beautiful farming region of Yucaipa, California is filled with football, soccer games, and family time. Their three children live on the west coast, so Priscilla and Jim keep their primary residence in California so they can maintain their home and watch their grandchildren grow. They participate in all the families’ activities, events, and athletics–watching the growth of the next generation. “We have five grandchildren in California and two in Vegas, so we can’t make a complete cut. In November, it’s time to go home and be back in California with the kids for the holidays.”
Upon Jim’s retirement, the Taylors downsized to a smaller, single-level residence in a 55+ community in Calimesa, in the town of Yucaipa. There, neighbors water their plants and their children check on the place and gather their mail while they are in Kentucky. They rent a storage unit to keep the California home minimal with easy upkeep. The Bernardino Valley has suffered widespread wildfires for the past few summers, but so far, the Taylor’s home has been spared. “The piano I had since I was 4 is there and my family knows that is the first thing they need to get out if the fires come. Forget the pictures and clothes, I want that piano!”
While away from their Kentucky home, a neighbor walks the property and stays in close contact throughout the winter months when there isn’t as much upkeep on the property. But come spring, as the grasses begin to grow and flowers begin to bud, it is time to head back to Nancy and tend the land.
“We always said that when we retire we want a piece of Kentucky,” Priscilla says. Now, their two lives, despite the 2,000 mile chasm between them, are quite similar. “We joke that you could pick up Nancyand put it in Yucaipa and it would fit right in.” Both are farming communities with cattle, wide wooded spaces, clean air, and good neighbors. One, a connection to the past, and the other, their future.
By Megan M. Seckman | Photos Submitted