Shannon Bardwell: Bloomers and box springs

May 23, 2010 1:26:00 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


One Friday my friend, Caryl, and I packed a picnic and set out for Caledonia. On a previous trip I had gotten lost in Caledonia and ended up driving round and round in the dark until I saw a church with lights on. I went inside where I beheld a group of men and announced, "I''m lost."  


I wondered if perhaps they had been praying for the lost and there I was. I told them I was trying to get to Starkville, and they said, "Honey, you are lost." I was glad they were men; men give better directions. 


So, for this outing I took a map. 


Traveling out Highway 12, we paused briefly at Wolfe Road, checking the map, then continued to Cal-Steens Road and turned left. Rounding a corner we spotted our destination.  


Bloomers was like the Six Flags of gardeners. The yards surrounding the rustic cabin were divided with picket fences and rusty headboards; there was a door in a frame standing upright in the middle of nowhere. Like a topsy-turvy house, nothing was as it seemed. A wicker loveseat overfilled with pillows was supported by chains and was now a swing. Every door handle was a garden implement. The sound of heavy wind chimes transported the listener across the miles to a grand cathedral. 


On the back porch was an ice box with cokes and moon pies. A sign said, "honor system." Inside was a dinette set; we opted for outside, finding a bright yellow picnic table at the edge of the woods. We made ourselves at home as did a black and white cat creeping first to our legs, then on the table and finally settling in on Caryl''s purse. The cat eyed my lunch, but I explained it was veggies and he wouldn''t like any. 


Our surroundings were a visual treat filled with natural wonders and human creativity. My favorite was a pergola, after realizing the top was made of three rusted box springs. Now I know why folks forage curb garbage. I''ve done it once or twice but never thought of box springs. 


In a corner yard children were playing in an area obviously designed for them. Imagine children nowadays playing in the sunlight, surrounded by fresh air and flowers and eating moon pies. Grown-ups pulled tiny wagons behind them. I put four varieties of tomatoes in my little wagon.  


On the way home I ruminated on the everyday things made into yard art, fences and door hardware. I told Caryl, "Keep your eyes peeled for curbside box springs."

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.