Friday, January 23, 2009


Chris also had an Aint Bessie, the polar opposite of my own, except for the name and gender. His was a bright, chirpy little bird of a woman, whose humble home, built around the old log cabin of the original homesteaders, was the center of many a good family gathering.

She loved and was loved by all of us, her sweet ways and her kind words and that wonderful food she seemed to provide so effortlessly. Her house was drafty and a bit shabby, with creaky old wood plank floors and a porch with a “swang” that called out hospitality and ease and comfort.

She belonged to “Club” and Eastern Star and hosted both organizations off and on throughout the year---in fact, my last memory of her is at a Saturday wedding reception, a really fancy one. We sat amongst the arrangements of flowers we could not name, and she told me of the refreshments she was preparing for Club, which would meet on Monday at her house. She told of the little sandwiches, the fruit punch, the moving of several pieces of furniture from the living room to accommodate all the brought-in chairs.

We chatted amidst a great crowd of beautifully-dressed people, she and I in our “best” dresses, and I wondered then if all those city folk come to the country could imagine the bright rustic frivolity of her lawn and porch---the old black-wood square logs and time-dulled planking of her house the mere backdrop for all the gewgaws scattered around her yard. There were gazing balls and Uncle Sam whirlies and lots of pans in trees and on the ground for feeding all the little creatures that depended on her.

She had a great flock of bright green ducks suspended from poles, fishlines in trees, porch eaves, clothesline poles, and any other elevated spot that she could string up a Sprite bottle. She had a pattern for cutting a 2-or-3-liter Sprite bottle so that the wings spun and the head nodded. The wings were cut from the sides and re-attached with those little two-pronged file buttons, so the whirring and the spinning were phenomenal, all that rush of noise, and the clashy green reflecting the sun in great sparkles as the breeze blew.

Man, those things could FLY---they’d get up a good headwind, and try to scoot right off their tethers. They looked for all the world like the last two geese in a V, beating their wings madly to catch up and ride the draft.

The shine and the glitter and the spray-painted flowerpots and birdbaths and Little Dutch Couple and Wishing Well and many-times-painted Grecian goddess with no arms and half a nose---those just couldn’t hold a candle to the spinning ducks.

I found a delightful site just this week, one of several I’ve found from WAY BACK HOME, and it was so captivating and day-brightening that I had to share. This man has devoted his life to prettifying the world, and I cannot tell you how much I’ve enjoyed these Bottle Trees. I spent a whole morning just mesmerized, and I thought it ought to be spread around even more.

I love the LOOK of them, the symmetry, the sun-sparkled and the weather-crazed; the colors and the shapes and the angles and the light---it's art in its purest, most humbly engaging form. I've been saving our few wine-bottles for a friend who paints them for dish-soap containers, but I'm gonna keep some of the good ones for myself. And someday in Spring, I'll get out there and tackle one of those errant catalpa trees or maybe a big old woody Viburnum bush, trimming it to the heavy stems, to make my own bright Tree of Glass.

I loved this, and Aint Bessie would have bowed down and called him Sensei.

Just keep scrolling til you look your eyes full. It'll do you good and help you, too.


Keetha said...

Do you ever listen to his call-in show? I can't grow anything but he's so entertaining and I tune in when I can.

I've met him in person once or twice and he is a TRIP! He fails from Sunflower County, I understand.

Kim Shook said...

I especially love the one with all the glass things that used to be on telephone poles. My granddaddy had a bazillion of them all over his farm. He couldn't figure out why they were there - did the telephone people dump them for some reason, did they have a tendency to fall/blow off (a line ran right through his farm)?? And because he never threw anything away, he just started a pile of them behind his cowbarn. When he died, there were huge piles of them on the farm. I used to 'collect' them as a kid and Jessica was infected with the same fascination as I had. She came home from a trip to NC with a trunk full that she intended to use somehow and they are still behind my little shed. I don't have a tree that is short enough for them that would support them, though. What a great site, Rachel. Thank you so much for showing them to us!

racheld said...

I just love the BRIGHT of them, the time it took to collect or round up all those beautiful bits, and the 'eye' for the arranging.

I don't quite GET the pale teal SONOMA tree--I wish it were closer-up so I could see all the details---it looks like a marvelously-beaded bit of sculpture, with some wonderful undersea life encrusted top to bottom---desert coral shining in the sun.

And the goldy-brown melty-orbs on the Felder tree are surely hand-blown---no two alike and of such magnificent glob-ness.

The whole picture that speaks to my heart is the Greg Grant garden right at the very top---the fence is one I remember, and the spindly-post porch.

I know those lilies and all the other plants that are just "taking over" the front yard---there's a white-painted rocker for taking your ease, and I swear that's three pairs of faded "over-hauls" drying on the line.

Just a wonderful site, and I go back to it over and over.