Saturday, October 29, 2011
From Trash to Treasure
The interior of the house needs work and the yard needs work, but I find myself obsessed with the woodlands. Perhaps it’s because before moving to Hickory’s Kenworth neighborhood, I had lived in the mountains in rural Pennsylvania. There, if you take a step off your front porch, you can get right onto some cross-country skis. I can’t remember ever living inside city limits.
The obsession with my Hickory forest started one spring day as I was raking leaves from my yard into the woods. My rake uncovered something glass. I dug the glass out of the rich loamy leaf mold: a soda bottle, one of the oldies we used to turn in for a deposit.
As I retrieved it, I noticed several others in the same area; some with shades of light green, brown, or clear glass; some whole; others with their sharp shards poking up like menacing little swords…Brownie, Pepsi, Coke, Orange Crush, and Royal Crown.
They circled an ancient oak tree as if they were placed there by fairies to protect their domain. Alas, my lovely “forest” had been nothing more than a garbage dump in its previous life!
Worrying that my two precious cats might hurt their delicate paws on such deadly refuse, I began to gather every bottle or piece of glass I could find. I rinsed out the whole ones and put everything into the recycle bin. I thought of taking some of the older ones to an antique dealer, but felt I would probably be given next to nothing for them.
That was the first spring. You know how you dig a garden and dispose of what you think to be all of the rocks? The following spring, others seemed to push up through the earth bigger and more plentiful. Each spring I was prospecting for more glass bottles.
About this time, I decided to make a special woodland retreat in my forest, so I began each winter to cut out all the little plants that creep and crawl everywhere in the South. I intended to reintroduce native woodland plants, so I chose another huge majestic oak and began to clear the area around it.
In a huge hole behind this oak, another tree had overturned during 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, leaving a crater, so I filled it with the brush I had been cutting out. I decided to rake this area. That’s when I hit the mother lode!
Bottles of every shape, size and color appeared before my eyes, whole and in shards again.
Moaning and groaning, I was on my way to get the recycle bin when it hit me. This area was so shaded, it would take years to get the woodland plants established, so why not clean these bottles and make a bottle garden? My daughter had collected bottles over the years and had suspended them from tree limbs and bushes in her yard in Tahoe.
As the circle around the oak began to take shape, I trimmed all the vegetation in a perimeter of four to five feet, leaving branches that would fit into the neck of each bottle.
Not only does it look intriguing, but the bottles are placed close enough together so when the wind blows, they actually clink, sounding like nymphs and fairies chattering their appreciation.
Yes, I know there are weeds in my front flower bed and winter pansies to be planted, but my bottles are catching the sunlight and gleaming and tinkling as winter turns to spring.