Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When I moved into this house in March of 2004, I was completely and utterly beside myself with joy and disbelief. This. This. THIS was my dream house.
Built in 1859 and standing strong with wide plank pine floors and porches from yin to yang, it was if I had dreamed it and then it arose from those dreams. I had dreamed it, as a matter of fact, and have the writing to prove it. I almost completely described my bathroom in a piece of fiction I wrote starting back in oh, something like 1997. And I wrote poems describing it and it came to me, in reality, on a night soundtracked by the Beatles.
It's been like a major miracle in my life that I live here.
And as I told my friend Marilyn on the phone today, perhaps I knew I wanted it so badly because my sub-conscious knew what a great grandmother house it would make.
But when I moved in, I had just watched the movie, Ray, which is a movie about Ray Charles who actually grew up right down the road from where I live now. And in that movie, there was a scene which had in it a bottle tree.
It was magical and I knew right then I wanted one here.
And so after I'd unpacked everything and put everything in its place I set out to create one, which I did. And that was six years ago and it was lovely and I loved it but over the last few years, it has grown dowdy and sad.
The bottles filled with water and grew mold in them. Some of them broke. And this spring I have been looking at the bottle tree with despair. It no longer brought me joy. It made me sad. But I have so much to do! How could I take the time to redo it?
And then today I was so filled with spring and Jessie came by after a visit to the Jefferson County Health Department where she is doing clinicals and I said, "Hey, want to help me redo the bottle tree?"
And Jessie, because she is very much a person who says YES to life and all of the questions which come her way, said she would like to.
And we cut down the old bottles and gathered up the broken ones and we washed the bottles and I rounded up other bottles which I had saved to put up in that tree and we redid it.
We hung blue bottles and green ones. New bottles and old ones. Bottles we have found on the property here. Check this one out:
It's a ginger-ale bottle and obviously, it was produced before it was the law to sterilize bottles before they were filled. Hello!
We hung fish-bottles.
Besides bottles, I have also hung things I've found on my walks, mostly metal items which, when the breeze blows, touch the bottles and make windchime sounds.
When my favorite car of all times bit the dust on Dog Island after a hurricane flooded its engine, I hung its key up to join in the music. And yes, Ms. Bastard, it was a Mazda Mini Van which transported me and my babies to the beach for three years with plenty of room for our food and our twinkly lights and our towels and blankets and sheets and baskets and everything we needed for our months in a tiny cement-block hovel of an apartment on St. George Island. I burned incense in that van. I had a basket filled with my Jimmy Buffett tapes in it. Those summers and that music and that beach saved my life and that's just the truth. And when we got the place on Dog Island, we transported the van over there and it shuttled us from the dock to the house for many years until Hurricane Dennis flooded the entire island and killed that van.
So here is that key, paired up with a gin bottle and I think I got the bottle at the recycle place. I haven't drunk gin in years.
The van is gone but its memory lingers on when I hear that sweet tap, tap, tapping of the key on the bottle.
Jessie and I laughed and laughed as we hung the bottles. We tried to use a step ladder to stand on to reach the higher branches and its legs sunk all the way up in the dirt which made Jessie giggle. Miraculously, no one was hurt, we hung our bottles and we are happy with the results.
My bottle tree is, once again, somewhat magical.
It sparkles and it shines and if there are bad spirits, I think they will be confused by the color and the light and slink away to someone else's house where there are no such encumbrances to their entrance.
That's the theory, anyway.
And it was good enough for me today on a day when no matter how hard I tried, I could not stay in the house for more than twenty minutes at a stretch, when the air and sun called me outside to play, even as the dust collected and the clutter rested where it lay.
My friends who are coming on Friday are going to have to love me for my chickens, my bottle tree, my garden, my supper, and my heart. They will have clean sheets and towels and home-made soap and home-made bread. And if there is mold and dust, they will have to just overlook it.
I think they will.
Because when they drive up, there will be blooming azaleas and wisteria, clucking hens and a rooster, perhaps a grandson on my hip and there will be martinis. And a bottle tree. There will be a bottle tree, gleaming and shining and tinkling in the sun.
And that will have to do.
I love them and I think they know that and I think that they love me too. And they know about spring and they know about love and they have stayed in the Panther Room before.
A little dust is not going to interfere with the magic of this place I have been so gloriously given to live in for now. It is a place where so many people have lived before me and where many people will live after I am gone. But for now, it is mine, and I hang things from the little redbud outside and I hope they say, "Welcome, come in." I hope they say, "Let me sing you a little song." I hope they say, "This is a place which is loved."
I hope they do. I think they do. I know they glitter in the light, merely glass, but isn't glass sort of magical in and of itself? Do you remember when you learned in school that glass is actually a liquid? Weren't you amazed?
I was. I still am.
And today Jessie and I cleaned and shined the solid liquid we call glass and we hung it up in a tree and we stood back and we laughed.
And now I am going to go to bed and perhaps I will dream of that- the liquid color swinging in the redbud, tinkling against the found, strange metal shapes, and when I wake up, it will all be here in reality, too.
I live inside a dream, and it is a sweet one.
Thank-you for visiting it. Thank you for dreaming it with me.