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Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the Details

Yesterday I wrote that good writing is in the nuance and detail. Here’s a detail that has been intriguing me for several days.

Last Saturday my goal was to explore plant sales. Over the previous week yellow and pink poster boards advertising two sales for last weekend began appearing on telephone poles around the neighboring town. Considering my soon to be reduced circumstances, my plan was to go this inexpensive route to supplement my needy gardens this season. Every time I approached the signs though, there were enough cars around me to render it impossible to slow down to read them.

About two miles from our house, a juncture with the peculiar name of Itchy’s Corner situated at the center of an intersection of four merging roadways, contains a landscaped island surrounding a telephone pole, and there were signs for both sales nailed to it. When Saturday dawned, I took a detour there to note the times and locations in an effort gain an early choice of plant sale offerings. Doesn’t it figure that one sale was actually scheduled for this weekend, and the current time was 8:10; the remaining sale started at 8:00 a.m. and was on the other side of town.

Departing Itchy’s Corner, I drove down rock-lined country roads, past leaning stone cemeteries and homes hosting historical plaques and bulging lilacs, heading toward the white steepled church hosting the plant sale. As I turned left past a paint-peeling cape, a splash of color caught my eye.

At first I assumed it was one of the many blooming bushes that riot the area this time of year, but soon realized my error. In front of a white farmhouse, embedded in the lawn at the edge of the street, a four-sided wooden post covered in coat hooks was planted, and a wooden clothespin attached to each of the hooks supported a patchwork quilted handbag. There must have been twenty, maybe twenty-five in total, artfully arranged in a colorful stack—a pocketbook totem pole, if you will. Due to our proximity to the sea, we occasionally encounter vivid displays like this created from lobster buoys, but ladies purses, well, that was a first.

It says something about me that while laughing, my thought on viewing the display was concern about the gray sky that had recently begun spitting on my windshield. What would happen to the purses if they got wet? I wondered if the occupant of the house was a designer; the display a clever method to market the artist’s particular wares. In the end, I kept driving, smiling a bit, and the plant sale, once I got there, ended up being a bust. I didn’t mind though, because I’m not sure anything there would have offered me the same joy as that vibrant out-of-context display that I encountered that overcast day, on a country road just a few miles west of my house.

It gets a bit better though. Unable to forget that amusing exhibit, I drove back there today thinking I’d photograph it, but the pole was empty. As I circled my way back toward Itchy’s corner, I passed the end of a dirt driveway where tilting wooden shelves filled with an assortment of potted plants leaned under a crudely lettered sign stating: Perennials for Sale.

I pulled over and selected two healthy looking Echinaceas, feeding my four dollars through the opening in an unmanned cashbox.


Paula Villanova said...

Glad you got at least got some echinacea! The area you describe was my school bus route in elementary school (what feels like at least 100 years ago...) It was very rural at the time, and Itchy's Corner was simply a phone pole in the middle of the intersection. After deeming it unsafe, the town built the little island around it. I never thought I would be writing about Itchy's Corner!

Liza said...

Paula, I've lived here long enough to remember Itchy's Corner as the phone pole smack in the middle of the intersection. Even though it was dangerous, I think I preferred it that way. Nonetheless, it's a great name, and is one of the little things that makes me love where I live.