Wing Haven

Wing Haven Gardens is a relatively understated pocket of beauty and serenity in Charlotte, NC. It was not originally intended to be a public garden, but as the homeowners built their home on the first acre of land, they gradually acquired more property so that now the garden contains nearly 3 acres within its brick walls. Word of the Clarkson couple and their beautifully planned garden spread and people began to be invited to visit, and school buses with children who had never seen such a place before also came to see.

To a gardener this is a well-known, frequently visited place. Mrs. Clarkson originally designed it for the songbirds and wildlife it would provide homes and food for. This is long before Earth Days or habitat- and ecology-conscious people were about. Mrs. Clarkson invited the birds (and ducks, rabbits and chipmunks) into her home as well. She raised a family of orphaned blue birds in her home and they freely came and went. The formal herb gardens, bricked pathways and occasional statuary or plaque with an apt quote provide for human wanderers as well.

Anyone with a weary soul, a broken heart or even just tired feet finds solace there. You might find yourself gazing upward into the lofty boughs of an enormous tulip poplar, or the ample canopy of red oak, or following the erratic dash of a squeaking chipmunk. Or simply sitting on a bench under a cool arbor on a hot summer morning, listening to the birdsong and gentle splash of a fountain close by.

As many things of nature, it is a wonder and it invites you to be enveloped in its soft spring embrace, autumn change or quiet wintry chill.

Flea Markets and Free-for-Alls

So apparently flea markets started, late 19th century in France– Paris, to be exact –of all places. I recall from the film “The Accidental Tourist” (William Hurt, Geena Davis), Muriel (Davis’ character) traveling to Paris to find Leary (Hurt’s character), and also finding armloads of vintage apparel at these markets.

There is probably not much a person cannot find at these emporia. From bathtubs to antique barometers, magazines to read or arm, paintings, parasols, canes, crystal, canary cages, dressers, daguerreotypes- virtually anything.

I used to frequent a rather large market near my hometown particularly close to Christmas time. So yesterday, with the weather warm and murky and heavy with unreleased rain I found myself feeling a bit wistful for some reason. I piled the dogs into the car and headed out.

In the 20-odd years since I’d last visited this vast place they have changed their schedule. The first weekend of the month is the Really Big antiques and collectibles expo. I happened on a new venture called 3rd weekend bazaar. Not many stalls were open at all, and the largest building where it’s generally a cacophony of chatter, laughter, music boxes and general large crowd noises was opened for a special auction and bead show, neither of which I cared to see. So I meandered through the places that were open, politely nodding to the proprietors, murmuring compliments on their various arrayed finery and furniture. Vaguely looking for 1920s magazines for which a great aunt of mine occasionally drew covers, or anything else that might happen to catch my eye.

I wondered as I wandered through these corrugated-steel shops whether this might be a weekend hobby for the sellers… I did not quite see how they could make a viable living out of displaying things someone haphazardly might or might not buy. And they would need to go on buying trips, they’d have to have developed an eye for spotting treasures among trash, as the saying goes– one man’s trash is another’s treasure... but what fun to meet so many people of like mind doing the same thing. And sharing trade tips, or keeping secret troves close to one’s heart.

And occasionally, among the clutter and aromatic candles I spot a dog, stretched out on a braided rug, oblivious as a napping child to the clomp-clomping of shoppers and passers-by.

Life is but a dream…

Doing some research, this was in Lewis Carroll’s poem at the end of Through the Looking-Glass, beginning, “A Boat, beneath a sunny sky… “. I remember the line as in the children’s rhyme song that we were taught to sing in rounds. There we were, rowing our little boats (we hoped in the same direction), gently down the stream. Such is life, but not always downstream, is it? Being gentle helps, but always? And what if that downstream movement is toward a precipitous waterfall?

Is it merrily, merrily or verily, verily? We always sang merrily, so that would seem to correlate to the adage “Ignorance is bliss”, if we are rowing gently, and merrily, only to conclude that life is just a dream. Then what are we doing here in the first place? Is it practice?

Some would concur that, yes, it is practice. It is here where we stretch our wings, crash and burn, soar on the strengths of our finest hopes and aspirations, encourage others, learn and unlearn, begin and end, only to begin again. We can keep our one dream, stop and change to another dream, help someone else with their dream. But gently. And merrily.

Even when we don’t want to be.

“Life is but a Dream” is reprinted from The Hunting of the Snark and Other Poems and Verses. Lewis Carroll. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1903.

A diamond in a dewdrop

Probably everybody has seen this, usually early morning before the dew has dried on the grass. But sometimes on a bright sunny day the sparkle seems more brilliant than other days. I know the reason this happens- the light’s refraction creates a prism and reflects a shinier dot of water. I know the way the words are strung together to explain the phenomena that is light. But still, something escapes me.

Some part of the mystery I think we are not meant to know, just to enjoy.

There it was, shining bright as a diamond. A splash of brilliance with a tiny prism, shimmering and changing its color as I moved incrementally. Red orange yellow green blue indigo violet but even the words don’t cleverly or fully describe what I saw. 

It’s like I said, you can describe, explain, clarify, define, elucidate, prove, and give evidence to, but knowing the why or the how does not in any way diminish the miracle of it. Who could imagine beyond science that the so-called properties of a tiny water droplet when shined on by the sun could produce such a magnificent display?

Not only does it nourish its life-givingness but it gives beauty. More nourishment.

A true gift.