Mack Williams column: The coast in the city

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 5, 2020

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
There is one suburb street down which I sometimes travel where the houses seem alike until just before an intersection with a four-lane thoroughfare.
And there it is on the left: a yard with an oasis-like growth of luxuriously green palms on one side. The rest of the yard is filled with masses of tall, thick-stalked plants, their decorative foliage shaped like upside-down hearts with “ventricle” tips pointing skyward.
A wooden fence surrounds the yard, each board coming to a point, a palisade matching the majority pointed foliage which it surrounds.
The house behind this greenery is eclipsed by its yard, becoming only a canvas holding floral still life.
There is a boat with a hitch parked just within the fence; both fence and florals making me think of someplace private at the seashore. The boat does look large enough to actually be seaworthy. A trick of the imagination makes it seem that if I entered the door of that fence, walked past greenery, boat and house, I might actually find an access path to the beach by way of this suburban secret garden.
The owner seems to have truly created his own coast away from the coast.
I don’t know if he also brought in sand, coastal rock, or shells; as I can’t see from the road because of the fence. But there’s no way he could have brought in the ocean’s salty air; and I doubt that his “coastal reverie” includes piles of oyster shells, which would give his place the smell of one of those oyster-schucking companies near the actual coast. I drove past one years ago in Beaufort County, and the smell made me want to crawl somewhere and hide (like a hermit crab).
I’ve never seen the man, but can imagine him sitting on his porch, thinking himself at the seashore, with the somewhat regular whooshing sound of passing cars lapping at his fence like waves on a beach.
I recently noticed the boat’s absence. The gentleman may now be farther socially-distanced (actually, physically distanced) somewhere on the sea, such sea being absent from his yard’s coastal replica due to a lack of space.

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