03 October 2008

Charlie's Place

It's Fall. Something a little different today...

We were riding bikes with The Boy the other day. It's a nice neighborhood where everybody on the block literally knows everyone else on the block. There's a house on the corner that's Charlie's house. The Boy usually rides in his driveway before coming back out to the road to meet us. He never used to ride on his lawn though. Charlie was meticulous with his lawn.

I remember when he would occasionally get his picture in the local newspaper posing in front of his garden. He had A yard full of tulips of every hue imaginable. The only thing grander than those tulips was the smile he would show for the photographer. He was one of those people who could plan his garden so that something was in bloom every single week. As fast as one flower would fade, another would take it's place with no trace of a wilted flower anywhere.

If the wind was blowing in the right direction, you could catch the faint scent of the flowers from our back porch. This usually led to a walk or a bike ride past Charlie's place so we could see what had popped up in his garden.

He had a few friends that would stop over just about every evening. They had a swing at the far end of a lawn the color of green that would make golf courses shake with envy. They would always wave and call our son over. I used to tread lightly when we walked across the lawn to visit, but Charlie never cared. The only thing he enjoyed more than his gardening were the kids in the neighborhood.

Charlie slowed down and the leaves out front became a problem for him during the fall. Offers for help from neighbors went unheeded while his would catch his breath on the curb halfway through raking. Eventually the grand, old oaks in front of his house came down to save him the trouble. It was a little shocking for those of us so used to the view. The sky seemed garish against his house; clouds scoured his roof line. The mountains loomed up behind his house and bore it down.

His friends would only stop over once a week or so now. We started to see someone come over and help out with the garden and the lawn with Charlie making a guest appearance now and then. He still always made sure to wave when he was out.

The first weeds started to show in Charlie's lawn late one Summer. We stopped and gawked and then moved respectfully on. No one waved at us from the swing any longer. The scents from his garden no longer greeted us on our back porch.

Charlie passed not too long after the first weeds showed up. Now they grow tall...taller even than his tulips once did. The house sits abandoned and The Boy can be seen riding his bike across his previously pristine lawn before we call him back.

Hopefully someone will move in soon and bring some life back into that small corner of the organism that is my neighborhood but I'm pretty sure, no matter what, it will always be Charlie's place.

UPDATED: In a peculiar turn of events, the day after I posted this, we saw a few vehicles at Charlie's place. They were moving furniture and other items out. We finally got an opportunity to talk to the people moving while we were riding bikes. It turned out that Charlie's niece, one of the people who used to stop over nearly every evening and swing, had bought Charlie's place and is moving in. She's retired now and it will be a few weeks until she moves in. I'm heading over to tomorrow to mow those weeds for her and give Charlie's place fresh look for a new start.

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jenboglass said...

Aw. Or maybe I should have said awe. This was a beautiful and touching story. Thanks for sharing. I hope someone does move into Charlie's place and make his memory proud.

On a lighter note, I AM SO FIRST! Take that Heinous Readers. (Hey, Heinous Readers would be an awesome name of an afterschool club of middle schoolers who speed read. Don't you think?)

Vodka Mom said...

I think Hiney readers is catchier.

Great post fella. Loved it. It made me a little sad, but that's okay. We all know that no one gets out alive.

blissfully caffeinated said...

Dude - I'm totally crying over here. Poor Charlie. I hope you get another nice neighbor.

HeatherPride said...

That makes me sad and nostalgic for the street I lived on as a kid - so many pleasant old people who are now gone. *sigh*

JaxPop said...

Everyone has a 'Charlie' in the neighborhood for some reason - Lou in my case. I picked strawberries for 10 cents a quart starting when I was 6 years old. Sounds like you lost a good guy & neighbor.

Pretty soon - somebody's gonna blog about me - the nice old guy that smelled like Round Up weed-killer who had the nice lawn that's now moved on to that Scots Fertilizer plant in the sky.... (Shivers)

Nah! I only wave to neighbors - they'll never know I'm gone.

Have A Good Weekend

Ron said...

That was incredibly well written and I felt like I was witnessing the whole thing from across the street.

JaxPop said...

Never post a comment standing up. My point was - I picked strawberriess for Lou - brain freeze. Duh. Point lost.

Yours on the other hand was a good story.

Mike said...

I agree...very nice post. My sister's neighbor is 85 and is always in the yard. A nice guy. I hope his yard stays nice for a long time.

Heinous said...

Jen: As long as they're not reading the blog after school. I think parents would show up at the door.

Deb: We'll both get back to fun here in no time.

Jen M: Sorry about that.

Heather: Memories serve well enough mostly, but it's easy to get wistful sometimes.

Jaxpop: I think they'll know when you're gone. The blogosphere will at the very least.

Ron: Thanks. It's good to stretch myself once in a while, but it's back to funny soon here.

Mike: Many thanks. I'm gonna have to tell you about the people around the corner who are on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Captain Dumbass said...

Nice post Heinous, glad I finally stopped by. And I am an aspiring Charlie, just without the tall oaks since I live below sea level and with nothing to root into they'd just topple over onto my house and instead of being that sweet old man with the beautiful garden I'd be that dumbass whose house was crushed by a giant tree.

Cheryl said...

What an awesome story. I love stuff like this.

I also just saw your twitter about you and the wife being alone. Hope you took full advantage of that situation....;)

The Stiletto Mom said...

That was beautifully written. There's always something about a house with that much nostalgia, it never really feels like it belongs to the next person.

Good lord, now I have to add deep to my already gushing descriptions of you.

Heinous said...

Cap'n: Thanks for stopping by and let's keep you around for a little longs. Some nice shrubberies perhaps?

Cheryl: We both did, no worries there ;)

Mary Anne: No gushing allowed. Now go find yourself a bathing suit and relax.

for a different kind of girl said...

How lovely that someone who loved and cared for that property already will be making it her home now. I imagine in it will soon feel like 'life' there again. You're a good neighbor to journey down and extend such a thoughtful welcome!

Confessions of A Mississippi Mom said...

great tribute to a wonderful neighbor whom will be missed. hopefully his niece will take up his love of a beautiful yard. thanks for sharing great post

Red Cup Mom said...

Glad you mowed down the weeds... I would have done the same thing! Hope the tulips come back some day. That would be bittersweet.