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My South: B is for the things I see from the front yard to the back

June 7th, 2014 · 5 Comments



While weeding among the monkey grasses beneath the wall at the front of my yard a few weeks ago, I unearthed a baseball that I assumed had rolled down the sidewalk to its resting place there. I removed it, wiped it free of pollen and dirt, and placed it atop the stone column that borders the steps up to my front porch. No one has claimed it; it remains on its rocky perch.


B_Uncle Bobby_2_RESIZED

As I turned to walk up the driveway, I spied my neighbor Robert – Uncle Bobby to many here – edging his lawn along the street. I stealthily snapped a picture of him in action from a distance.


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There was a bird standing at the gable point above the garage door singing its heart out. Something in the back of my mind hinted to me that this was an omen of good fortune. I raised my phone to snap a photo of it, but it flew away just before I was able to capture its image.



I have been relieved of my duty to water the vegetable garden for the last two weeks, as we have had almost daily afternoon thundershowers. As a result, the tomato plants are growing rapidly, almost eclipsing the presence of the iron bottle tree in the center of the raised bed. I hadn’t encountered even the idea of a bottle tree until I had spent a few years in the deep South – it is a remnant of Hoodoo – or folk magic – culture, and the presence of one (usually found in one’s back yard, at least that’s the usual location in my neighborhood) is believed to ward off evil spirits. The green spray paint I had applied to it earlier in the season acts as a camouflage; only the presence of two brown beer bottles betrays its location.


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Today’s garden discovery was a nearly mature banana pepper. It is the first fruit from this summer’s garden, but I’ll give it some more time before I indulge. By the way, for those of you who do canning, a handful of banana pepper O-slices put into pickles adds a nice approachable tang to the taste. I just happened upon this a couple of years ago when canning dill pickles, when I had a lot of the little yellow suckers left over. Now I can’t imagine not adding them to the mix!


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On the walk toward the back of my property, and the steps leading up to my quiet writing garret above the garage, I pass a nascent blossom on the magnolia tree. It is about two days away from being fully open, but it’s already releasing its fragrance. Lean in. Can you smell it?

POSTSCRIPT: Today, Tuesday, June 10th, I pulled up in the driveway and either the same or a different bird was perched atop the garage. This time, my camera caught it.

Tags: My South: A to Z

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Jun 7, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    What a lovely post and tour of your grounds. I’d always wondered what the deal was on bottle trees, so thanks for sharing that bit of information. I’d imagined them to look kitschy, but yours fits in rather nicely. It would be handy for drying bottles if you make your own beer or wine. I can almost smell the magnolia… Up here, the flowers blossom before the leaves come out. They look remarkable–a leafless ball of flowers.

  • 2 spitballarmy // Jun 7, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Leafless balls of flowers would be something to behold. As for this particular bottle tree: I purchased it at an iron works shop downtown, where they have artisans who weld all sorts of household ornaments together. A few years ago, I had it completely full of bottles – mostly wine – and it careened onto the cement patio during a furious storm, creating quite a racket and broadcasting glass EVERYWHERE! Now, in the vegetable garden, it can only fall on tomatoes or grass. 🙂

  • 3 Doro // Jun 8, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Enjoyed this b-trip! And the bottle-tree, I wondered about those, too. Now i am tempted to tour the grounds here for one of the next letters.

  • 4 Jane Hammons // Jun 13, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    great things you see with B!

  • 5 spitballarmy // Jun 19, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Thanks, Dorothee and Jane!

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