Monday, July 12, 2010

mosaic monday

It's been an uneventful weekend here, which means there hasn't been any blog fodder. While catching up on other blogs I follow I found inspiration via A New England Life to post this collection of photos from Melrose a la the Little Red House blog. For those who don't know, Melrose is my family's tree farm in South Carolina, just a holler from Augusta, GA. In the above collage is a portion of the view from the front of the house, my favorite place to idle when I'm there. The bloom at left is from a bush along the driveway, and the lower right image is a view from the yard looking to the southwest across a section of our property. Most of what you see is across the Savannah River.

Melrose has been in the family for over a hundred years, and there is scattered evidence that my great-great-grandparents spent some time there after the Civil War. One of these days I will track that down. It was primarily a summer place for my grandmother's family, where they could escape the heat of Augusta (it is a few degrees cooler, and the hilltop location of the cottage reaps the benefit of breezes blowing in from the west). My great-grandfather also started a peach orchard there, and bears the distinction of being the first South Carolina peach exporter, or something like that. Eventually the peach trees succumbed to blight, and natural reforestation offered a means of income for my grandmother.

I tell you all this to convey a sense of history about the place, more than the people (at least today!). By modern standards Melrose is lush with ancient plants. Crepe myrtles line a section of the front porch. Tall and stately, I love the pattern of the bark that adorns the trunks. At the back of the house one of the crepe myrtle has "sprouted" shoots of new growth. We dug up four of those to bring home to plant, two of which are doing well. The other two may need last rites, but I'm giving them an opportunity for renewal before that pronouncement is made.

This past spring we were there earlier than usual and saw things in bloom that we miss, typically. Among those blooms is a row of daffodils planted along a ledge of sorts, just down the sloping ground away from the house to the north. These are heirloom dafs, and this fall I plan to dig some up to bring home to plant here.

The cottage was originally two-rooms structure moved from another site, with a detached kitchen. Joined by a common chimney, two bedrooms were added at some point, with two smaller rooms that house a bathroom and what was great-grandfather's office. It is called "the den," and now contains a twin bed and about enough room around the bed to turn around. Old as the house is, there is no insulation or "weather-proofing." Given its latitude, this means that the only comfortable time to be there without benefit of a central heat and air system is in the early spring and mid-autumn. On cold days, the living room is best warmed by a fire.
It is the family tradition to enjoy the close of day with happy hour, watching the sun set. When I was growing up chairs were set out on the lawn under the large Live Oak, and trays of nibbles accompanied our consumption of beverages of choice. In more recent years the event has receded to the front porch, where chiggers and other nibbling critters are less likely to snack on us. I love the golden light that bathes the house and yard at that time of day.

For now, that concludes our tour of Melrose. Thanks for stopping by to visit. It's a tradition at this wonderful place.


The Bug said...

What a nice visit! Thanks for sharing Melrose with us. One of the things I miss about living in NC is the crepe myrtles - I see one every now & then up here but nothing like the profusion in my home state.

Amy said...

A wonderful tour of a sublime place - love all the traditions and crape myrtles too. Thank you for taking us!

Barbara said...

What a lovely, lovely place. I enjoyed your beautiful photographic tour.

Bonnie said...

What a wonderful place! Beautiful photos!

AllyJo said...

What a glorious place. I want to visit! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story and pictures.

Mompriest said...

Not only is this beautiful I love the idea of an old family place like this! thanks for sharing its story....

Jayne said...

It is so special that you all have a place like Melrose. I hope to maybe see it one day.

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