Mack Williams: Of gardens and golf carts
In Yanceyville, I recently saw where my daughter-in-law Rose had started some vegetable plants (tomatoes, cucumber, squash, pickles, etc.) in a mini-greenhouse. I thought back to the late 1980s, when I first started growing carnivorous plants in a little mini-greenhouse. Rose’s plants, different from mine, would be eaten, not do the eating.
Driving back home, I passed “Dick’s greenhouse” (not a sporting goods company going “vegan,” but the fallen-into-disuse greenhouse of the very recently late Richard “Dick” Jennings Fowlkes of Yanceyville, North Carolina.
At one time, Dick and my late father-in-law Hoyt Moore were the “communal gardeners” of Pemberton Street (their little football-field length street named after local lawyer and former judge, Clarence Lily Pemberton).
Mr. Pemberton let Hoyt and Dick use some of his land for gardening; and Dick, of course, sold ornamental and foliage plants from his own greenhouse. Hoyt and Dick raised and gave away extra vegetables to people in that small neighborhood with their Golden Rule variation: “Do unto others with tomatoes” (ripe, not rotten).
I slowed down while passing Dick’s old greenhouse, noticing its present state of dilapidation. Through an opening, I saw that what was once filled with purposefully nourished life, was now a place for the accidental nourishing of weeds, not only “gone to seed,” but “gone to weed.” Flower pots seemed filled with whatever had sprung up there, possibly from seeds carried through openings by the wind. Seeds are “crafty” things, especially those referred to as “roadside invasives” (and Dick’s greenhouse was beside the road). Evidently some cracks in the greenhouse roof let in sufficient water.
The rusted, static fan (immobile to even a passing natural breeze) resembled the old rusted propeller screw on a long-sunken ship. The ship’s screw’s rest is rudely interrupted by bright lights and submersible camera. But this “screw’s” daily decomposing is visible to driversby (I know “driversby” isn’t a word, but if there can be “passersby,” then why not?).
I had earlier passed the former site of my late father-in-law Hoyt’s garden at the street’s other end, finding myself wondering (just for the heck of it) if any old seeds from those previous generations of sewn crops there might have lain dormant and could be sprouting now; but I had serious doubts. There was also no chance that somewhere in those weeds, plant evolution had “jumped the gun,” producing a “perennial pea.”
There was no more nourishment to be found in Hoyt’s garden nor Dick’s greenhouse (unless one’s palate and floral preferences run a little on the “wild side”).
I just now remembered a discarded glass bottle I saw in the woods years ago. The bottle was cap-less, and some forest floor detritus had washed in, providing “soil” for the seeds of weeds to take root. Those plants were flourishing in their miniature “greenhouse-terrarium!”
Both Dick Fowlkes and Hoyt Moore had some knee and hip problems, so they used the aid of golf-carts to get them to their places of gardening. The two of them, zipping about in their golf carts at the same time was a common sight (though I don’t think any challenge to a race was ever issued). I would stand on the back of Hoyt’s golf cart with Hoyt driving, and my late wife Diane in the passenger seat. Sense of speed is magnified in a small plane, and also in the case a golf cart (though not as much). Riding there, I had a definite sense of “careening!”
Hoyt would ride his golf cart up to Yanceyville’s annual Hoedown festival. One year, a new deputy said something to Hoyt about his mode of transportation, but it didn’t phase him, and nothing ever came of it. Like another small town deputy’s way of handling things, this deputy was evidently trying to “Nip it in the bud!”
Driving back to Danville, I thought of what I had just seen, and what I remembered. There was an abandoned garden, an abandoned greenhouse, but un-abandoned memories of senior men gardening and wheeling around in golf carts.