R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: The Built World (page 2 of 4)

Wednesday Photo: 3/7/18

“Sadness, Part 1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 4 April 2014

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Friday Photo: 3/2/18

“Hope and Rehope”
Chambers County, Alabama – 20 February 2018

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Wednesday Photo: 2/28/18

“Still Life at Brunch”
Raleigh, North Carolina – 21 May 2016

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The Daffodils That Always Mean “Home”

Living in a small town often means commuting a long distance to work somewhere else. Before I began working from home, I drove about 90 miles round-trip to my university teaching job. While the commute itself sometimes bored me, the scenery on U.S. Highway 27 between LaGrange and Carrollton never, ever did.

So it’s Spring now—the season that, in the Deep South, gives us an ice storm one day and tornadoes the next. This year has brought out the daffodils a little early. I delight in watching them pop up along U.S. 27’s shoulders.

When you see daffodils, you can safely assume that someone put them there. Unlike seed plants, daffodils and other bulbs have to be dug up and replanted. In order to get them from where they are to where they’re going to be, someone has to move them at the right time of year (late spring, after blooms and foliage have died back), transport them to a suitable location, and plant them.

Most of the daffodils we see along the roadside make their homes in someone’s yard. Sometimes they’re in neat flower beds. Sometimes, as is the case with my own yard, they’re randomly planted in a sunny patch of lawn to surprise everyone, year after year, with unexpected yellows and creams in a sea of brittle brown grass.

But what about those planted in or near a roadside ditch—without a house nearby?

Just because you don’t see a house doesn’t mean one hasn’t ever been there. Daffodils stay underground most of the year. Once they’ve finished blooming, their leaves die back and don’t reappear for another year. So old houses get demolished, their sites fading into and gradually out of memory—yet the bulbs embedded around them come back. They come back every spring thereafter, house or no house.

Plant ghosts, I call them. They don’t know the house and the people are gone. They come back because this is their home. In every sense of the word, they are rooted here.

The daffodils pictured above are very simple, single-cup daffodils, an old variety we often see around old houses. They’re about 12” tall at most, and amazingly hardy. Judging from what’s left of the house, and from the size of the flower clumps, these daffs have been here for about 50 years.

Behind the thick, overgrown privet hedge, nearly 20 feet down the bank from the southbound lanes of U.S. 27 in Carroll County, appears the faint outline of a house—or what used to be a house, anyway. Out in front: these happy yellow bells.

I wonder why the last residents left. I wonder if they left in a hurry. I wonder who decided to let a once-sturdy farmhouse simply fold itself back into the earth.

I wonder if, on leaving, they took one long, last look toward the flower bed. I wonder if they wept for the flowers waiting beneath its surface, for the daffodils that always mean “home.”

Photo: “Daff Nipped by Frost” (Carroll County, Georgia – February 2012)

NOTE: Earlier versions of this post appeared here on 2 March 2015, and at Forgotten Plants & Places on 25 February 2012.

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Hillside Monday: 2/12/18

“Still Life in Shadows”
LaGrange, Georgia – 14 January 2018

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Friday Photo: 2/9/18

“The Bench Crows Know”
Rabun County, Georgia – 26 September 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 1/24/18

“Waiting on a Train, Part 18”
Anniston, Alabama – 12 August 2017

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Tonight, I dream of Nashville, where a low pressure system wraps the city in a thick wintry blanket. How beautiful it would be to see the oxbows of the Little Harpeth, the girders of the Shelby Street Bridge, and the ear-tufts of the Bat Building swept by wind—swaddled in snow, glazed in sleet and freezing rain.

Tonight, I long to wake to the great roaring silence of snow. Through the perforated Bakelite cube at my bedside, a half-human, half-computer voice consoles me with a NOAA lullaby. “Currently in Nashville: snow, 28 degrees. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. Elsewhere in Tennessee…”

Tonight, indeed, my mind is elsewhere—in Tennessee. I imagine the crisis-comfort of winter weather: the deafening hush of heavy, wet snowflakes, the flik-flik-flik of ice on plant and ground, the muffled grrrrddddtttt of tires against slush in the parking lot of a tiny apartment on White Bridge Road. Just beyond my window, the splash of cold black-white-clear lacquer soothes me to sleep, to work, to live.

Tonight, in west central Georgia, I stock up on bread, milk, and bottled water. I surrender my hopes. I play along at home.

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Friday Photo: 1/5/18

“Virginia Creeper with Late Autumn Drought”
LaGrange, Georgia – 11 November 2016

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Wishing You a Happy 2018

“Turquoise Leap”
Denver, Colorado – 10 August 2014

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Merry Christmas 2017

“Bright Lights against the Pines”
Heard County, Georgia – 6 December 2015

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Friday Photo: 12/8/17

“Waiting, No. 2”
Wedowee, Alabama – 19 September 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 12/6/17

“Autumn Feathers on Green Enamel”
Heard County, Georgia – 29 October 2016

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Friday Photo: 12/1/17


“Sorrow in the Library Window”
LaGrange College
LaGrange, Georgia – 20 October 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 11/29/17

“Two Coffees, Black”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 October 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 11/22/17

“Bank Building Façade #1”
Meansville, Georgia – 6 November 2014

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Hillside Monday: 11/20/17

“Back Yard with Window Screen and Hurricane Irma”
LaGrange, Georgia – 11 September 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 11/15/17

“Famous Last Words”
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 October 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 11/8/17

“Cream, Sugar, Tabletop, Red Wall”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 3 July 2015

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Friday Photo: 10/27/17

“Waiting, No. 1”
Wedowee, Alabama – 19 September 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 10/25/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 17”
Anniston, Alabama – 12 August 2017

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Friday Photo: 10/20/17

“Factory Windows No. 1”
Newnan, Georgia – 3 August 2017

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Friday Photo: 10/13/17


“Stopped by a Train on Truitt Street”
LaGrange, Georgia – 9 August 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 10/11/17


“A. CASH, NO SALE”
Hogansville, Georgia – 19 August 2017

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Friday Photo: 10/6/17

“Fleur-De-Lis and Sky”
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 September 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 9/27/17

“Black Patent Parking Lot”
Newnan, Georgia – 22 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 9/22/17

The past is never where you think you left it.
— Katherine Anne Porter

“For Wes, Part 9”
Glenn, Georgia – 17 July 2017
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Wednesday Photo: 9/20/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 16”
Anniston, Alabama – 12 August 2017

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Friday Photo: 9/15/17

“Silver on Clear”
LaGrange, Georgia – 30 July 2014

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Hillside Monday: 9/11/17

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
— James Baldwin

“For Wes, Part 7 (You Don’t Know My Pain)”
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 July 2017

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Friday Photo: 9/8/17

“Meditation Garden Window, Graceland”
Memphis, Tennessee – July 2013

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Wednesday Photo: 9/6/17

“Track and Sky”
Leadville, Colorado – 9 August 2014

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Hillside Monday: 9/4/17

If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.
— James Baldwin

“For Wes, Part 6”
LaGrange, Georgia – 15 March 2017

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Friday Photo: 9/1/17

“Walking in Kansas City, Thinking of Home”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Hillside Monday: 8/28/17

“For Wes, Part 5”
LaGrange, Georgia – 22 July 2017

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Friday Photo: 8/25/17

MichaelsFineClothesForMen_COPY_06-16-2017

“Michael’s Fine Clothes for Men”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 8/18/17

KudzuAndConcrete_COPY_07-22-2017

“Kudzu and Concrete”
LaGrange, Georgia – 22 July 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/16/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 15”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/9/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 14”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Hillside Monday: 8/7/17

“For Wes, Part 4”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 July 2017
To be continued…

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Friday Photo: 8/4/17

“Kansas City at Night, 34th Floor”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/2/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 13”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 7/26/17

“Still Life with Hash Browns”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 July 2017

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Hillside Monday: 7/24/17

“For Wes, Part 2”
LaGrange, Georgia – 9 July 2017

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Hillside Monday: 7/17/17

“For Wes, Part 1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 9 July 2017

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Friday Photo: 7/14/17

“A Quiet Moment in KC”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 7/12/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 12”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Hillside Monday: 7/10/17

“Creeping Color”
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 October 2014

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Friday Photo: 7/7/17

“Self-Portrait with Porous Concrete”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 6/28/17

 

“Waiting on a Train, Part 11”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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