Thursday, April 5, 2007
“Good ole days” make me appreciate good folks now
Last month when Diane Wage phoned to ask if I would be willing to accept the Town & Country Garden Club’s designation of my yard as “Yard of the Month,” I was, of course, flattered. But I knew instantly and told Diane immediately that I was the least-deserving person they could name. Nobody dislikes yard work more than I! But I agreed to accept the award in tribute to the gentleman who works so hard to keep my lawn looking presentable to the community, Mr. M. H. Hampton.
Mr. Hampton, known to his friends and customers as “Sugarbear,” was first introduced to me by church member Caroline McCrosky. I needed help with my lawn, and she volunteered to ask Mr. Hampton if he would take me on. Ever since, I have rejoiced in his kind words, “I will take care of you!” And he has! He also keeps our church grounds looking beautiful. He always has them ready for Sunday morning.
I sometimes think that the “Yard of the Month” is really a contest among the various “pros” who take care of our lawns and gardens — the owners of the houses being merely the titular recipients of the award. However I understand that my colleague and friend the Rev. Bruce McMillan is to be the next recipient of the sign. Bruce does his own yard work, and so he really deserves the prize. He also has chickens, to boot!
Lawns and flowers always make me think of my grandmother — Mother’s mother, who was a real yard person. She grew beautiful roses, and I remember at springtime her lawn would be filled with purple iris, tulips in various hues, peonies, and my favorite when I was little — violets. Grandmother employed a gentleman, Mr. Ed Caulfield — now long gone to be with God — to help her with the heavy work, but she was outside in the yard almost every morning when the weather was nice — and all through the hot summer, too — watering, pruning, spraying, edging, and generally overseeing things. As a result, we always had arrangements of fresh flowers around the house, and roses on our dinner table.
I remember one of the few times I was ever in “serious” trouble with my grandmother occurred when I was about 2-1⁄2 or 3. A little friend and I discovered a certain shrub whose leaves could be stripped simply by sliding one’s hand along the branch. It was so easy and so much fun that before we were discovered, we had denuded the entire bush! My friend was sent home, and I was put to bed in disgrace!
At about the same age Daddy got me a sandbox and put it under the sweeping branches of the weeping willow tree in our back yard. Grandmother could make her pies and cakes and watch me from the kitchen window. There was hardly anything to make a home gracious and inviting or a little boy’s childhood pleasant that my grandmother did not do.
When “Sugarbear” says, “I will take care of you,” his words remind me of those good days. I miss my grandmother, and Mr. Caulfield, but I am also glad that I lived in a time and a place where those simple experiences rooted me in the appreciation of home, family, and friends.
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