Reaching September On Main Street

One of my favorite renditions is Willie Nelson singing September Song – – Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December but the days grow short when you reach September….I’m sure you can’t believe, nor can I, that June, July, and August are behind us. A summer not without blessings, but over-all, a horrendous time.

At the beginning of most summers, I make a mental list of what I want to do again as in my childhood summers. To walk barefoot in the dew-wet grass, eat homemade peach ice-cream, lug books home from the library, run under the sprinkler, catch fireflies in a Mason jar, swing on the porch, have a picnic, see the fireworks at Northwestern’s Dyke Stadium, and ride my bike. The list goes on. I did eat watermelon, walked barefoot in the grass, and read books to my heart’s content. The rest of my list didn’t materialize. I traded it all away with the time spent watching the horror of mobs running loose, looting and burning, our historical monuments being pulled to the ground, jumping up and down over the Rocky Mount shenanigans of old. A terrible trade-off!

I’m not naive enough to think that because we have crossed the threshold of September that our troubles are over. Particularly, as we battle down the field to the elections. It isn’t a bad idea to pick one of your sacred places, like the beach, or a hidden spot in the garden, perhaps your favorite chair, and shelter there, if only in your imagination to put yourself right again when the world’s woes are over-bearing.

This brick wall is going to be my sheltering place, which I only discovered when a friend invited me over specifically to place my hand on her back garden wall. This wall is made of Silus Lucas brick. (Below). Mr. Lucas had a major brickyard here and sold brick in other states from the Civil War era to the early 1900s. This wall was laid around 1955 when the homes on Marvelle Avenue were being built in the West Haven area.

A brick can be used to build a courthouse of reason, or it can be thrown through the window.  –   Gilles Deleuze

Going back for photographs, I found the owners had pulled away some of the ivy. This fall I will think of this brick wall and remember how strong it is, how it has endured all manner of elements, its age has not mattered, it continues true to itself, a thing of beauty and stability. The same attributes I associate with America, the shining light on the hill that must prevail.

PS: The lovely home on Marvelle is for sale.

PPS: These are precious days I spend with you. SFH

The Historic District Gardens of Rocky Mount – A West Haven Poem

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”
Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

 

Turning prose into poetry is exactly what MaryJo & Edwin Williamson have done with their Historic District West Haven garden situated a mile west of the business district of Rocky Mount, NC.  W. Henry Toler, secretary-treasurer for People’s Oil Company and his wife, would be amazed at what the Williamson’s have created since moving (2006) into the two-story brick Cape Cod house that was originally built in 1937 for the Toler’s.  The garden is a lesson in how to patiently write a ‘poem’….starting with the installation of pathways in increments, relocating plants, welcoming plant material from friends and neighbors who were dividing and editing their own gardens, and one project at a time, making a garden that has become a healing place of wonder & joy for The Head Gardener (MaryJo) and her Under Gardener (Edwin.)

The success of this joint endeavor manifests itself in a myriad of ways. The sound of water in a garden creates serenity, and MaryJo & Edwin’s 1st project was building a pond edged with rocks they brought home a few at a time from trips to Halifax Co.

Next, Edwin thought he was building himself a tool shed that got commandeered by MaryJo. When you see this charming structure, you will have no trouble imagining the magic it holds.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partially inspired by the years the Williamson’s lived in Carmel, California, Edwin built a gazebo that houses some of his Navy memorabilia. The structure is tucked in the corner, another surprise I found while wandering through the garden.

Whimsy plays an important role; a teapot, cups, and saucers holding food for the birds, a collection of bird houses handsomely displayed on perches Edwin has created. MaryJo sews her own garden flags. It would be impossible to select my favorite thing about this wonderful garden, whether it be the hardscape of paths and patios, resting places to sit or happily situated plants, but the mailbox that the Under Gardener leaves love notes in for the Head Gardener and a Corbel from the old sanctuary of 1st Baptist Church, where the Williamson’s were married, ranks high on this romantic’s list.

While MaryJo mentions the Daphne bushes and Coneflowers as favorites, Edwin loves the roses. There is a Sweet Betsy Bush like MaryJo’s grandmother had in her garden. This is a year-round garden where there is always something blooming in this well loved and cared for space. It turns out that from Google Earth Maps, the pathways around this garden are visible. One can find God in a garden and this one is no exception. It made me think Google Earth is surely akin to how God sees us, our pathways watched over by his love and care.

MaryJo and Edwin are taking care of their little slice of heaven, a garden designed and maintained by two knowledgeable, interesting and extremely wonderful folks. We thank them for sharing the garden with us. If you know of a garden in one of the historic districts that should be included in this series, please let me know in the Comment section below.

            

     

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