Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cool spaces in way back far out places

The very best thing about my temporary job is that it gives me a chance to see people's personal outdoor spaces - places that I would otherwise never know existed - places that they have created for themselves.
Cause folks, these aren't places "put together" for the neighbors' sake. They aren't places created by landscape designers. These are places that can't even be seen by passers-by. These are unique little worlds, and I feel privileged to have been allowed to share them here.

After jostling down a half mile of dirt track driveway winding through thick pine woods, my van rolled around a curve and out into an open meadow of surprises. There before me was a series of rock gardens - and I do mean gardens of rocks! Crystals and geodes, mica and minerals, sandstone and quartz - all laid out in the sun to sparkle or to oxidize. Standing watch over the gardens were animal sculptures made from recycled metal, including this owl. His body is a former propane tank and the eyes are the wire brush wheels off of a bench grinder.

"Blooms" of crystal, iron and manganese...

Rose quartz!

A closeup of the iron (rusty orange) and manganese (deep purplish-black) deposits on crystals.

The largest wind chime I've ever seen/heard, made from aluminum baseball bats... And yes, it sounded great - not at all like the sharp tinny sound of an aluminum bat hitting a ball.

And finally an alligator, a rooster and a giant giraffe - all made from old farm implements and scrap metal.

Really a cool place!! The owner graciously gave me a tour and permission to photograph his private world. He also gave me a night blooming cereus (?), a plant with which I was unfamiliar. Check out the very short video below! I had to work an extra 45 minutes to make up the time I spent there - but it was way worth it.

I was taught that one should not say "thank you" for a plant - that the the giving of a plant is to be reciprocal instead. I returned there today and dropped off several new sprouted lilacs, and though the owner wasn't home, I know he'll find places to plant them.


  1. Very cool stuff you found! Worth working an extra 45 minutes I'm sure! Love the alligator!

  2. What a great place to stumble upon! Well worth the dirt road, eh? I'm glad the owner let you take pictures.

  3. Patrice, you are definitely on a fabulous adventure with this part time job - loved this post

  4. I knew your job had to somehow be a gift. All you had to do was stop wishing you were doing your art and see the art where you are. But you knew that already. Just look at those great photos. Now that's mindfulness.

    As for the Cereus... a truly sublime gift. It will change your life. The person who gave it to you knows it. He knows that on the night it blooms, its intoxicating scent will envelope your world. You'll want to stay up all night watching its slow-motion fireworks. On the other hand, if you sleep, you'll have dreams you'll never be able to describe.

    In Hong Kong's crowded neighborhoods, word passes that so-in-so's Cereus is ready to bloom, and hundreds show up with their chairs and hammocks, filling the narrow streets and balconies all night. They share food and drink some. Then everyone grows quiet, drugged by the intense perfume. When the sun rises, the people go home to get ready for work refreshed and blessed, and the flower dies.

  5. How cool is that. They have to be pretty interesting people, too. Sounds like you're getting a whole world of experience out of this job. That's a lesson for all of us.

  6. Cool video! And Elvis is adorable.

  7. You should write a book about your experience as a census taker! I love the beauty (and the ugly) you find in something that might be a mundane trip for someone else.
    When I was a kid in Florida, my grandmother would wake us kids up to watch the cereus bloom. It's a very cherished memory.

  8. So cool!!!

    I have a night-blooming cereus. It's fabulous.