Thinkin' Out Loud


Not far from where I live is a two-lane road that used to connect one small town to the next smaller town.

Most of the other streets around here have been turned into four-lane roads lined with stoplights, Starbucks and subdivisions with fancy sounding names.  But not this one. It has no curbs or sidewalks — it is a lane, it is a breath of country in a burgeoning suburb.

For a half a mile or so, you can drive along under a canopy of Live Oaks and past long stretches of Kentucky white fences that hold back horses and a few small stone houses which care not for progress or the new millennium or subdivisions with precisely trimmed boxwoods and pansies all in a row.

Along this lane, there is a mysterious old house that hides back behind a thicket of brambles.  The only time you can catch a glimpse of it is in the winter, after all the leaves have fallen from the trees, and then only if you are driving slowly and know to look for it.   Perhaps the brambles grew up around the house to protect it from the world that had grown up around it.

As I was driving past the house just the other day, there were no cars behind me, so I slowed to get a better look at the old house.  It is mid-January now and all the trees have given up their leaves to winter except for the Texas Live Oaks which are quirky and stubborn and won’t shed their tiny leaves until spring.

I stopped and rolled down the passenger side window to peer into the tangle of gray vines and briers.  The mostly naked undergrowth would yield nothing more than a puzzle-piece size view.  But it was enough.  It was more than I had ever seen before.  Through a tiny peep hole of brambles, I could see a once grand two-story home with white columns which shelter a big porch.

At the street, there are two crumbling columns of bricks that flank a rotting wooden gate held up only by the thick and woody trumpet vines that have overtaken them.  At one time, the gate lead visitors right up to the big porch. But not anymore. No one had passed through that gate for years.

I saw in my rearview mirror that another car was approaching behind me. Disappointed, I pushed on the gas and moved on.  I left with mixed feelings. One the one hand I felt as though I had won something, some bit of information. On the other hand, I didn’t really know anything more than before I took the time to stop and peer into the underbrush like a Peeping Tom.

I drove away thinking about how it is in winter, when all the abundance and jewelry of life falls away, that hidden things are revealed.  It is then that we tend to slow down and peer into the underbrush for that glimpse of something special.

When life is green and good, we just drive on past.

31 thoughts on “Brambles

  1. I love old houses – but abandoned ones make me sad. Your post reminded me of Joyce Kilmer’s poem “The House With Nobody In It”

    “…But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
    That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
    A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
    Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet…”

    I wish I could explore this one with you!

    * * *
    Kilmer is one of my favorite poets.

  2. I was just thinking about this the other day that winter is like pregnancy. We grumble and complain, but it allows us to slow down and enjoy the quiet, as well as hope for spring! Beautifully written. Maybe you can tresspass and take cool picts? 🙂

  3. Isn’t that the truth? And it is those little revelations that give me the ability to be thankful during life’s winters. Thank you for the wonderfully written reminder to stop my usual course and really look under the brambles.

  4. Love your musings and curiosity. Wouldn’t it be fun to research the history of this property or maybe just write a fiction story about it. I bet it was beautiful in it’s heyday.

  5. It’s funny, we turned into the street where we live this morning and I commented to my girls on how grey it was. The street was grey, the trees are grey, the roofs are grey, the sky was grey. It was just kind of dismal.

    But where my friend lives, winter is often the most beautiful. She’s on a hill, just a few houses up from the lake. And in the summer all you see is leaves. In the winter, you can see through the tree branches to the lake, where the occasional brave goose is still hanging out, and where ice fishermen have their lodges, and where dogs play and a few children skate. It is quite beautiful, and it’s only visible in the grey. So perhaps, sometimes, we should be thankful for even what looks grim, for, as you say, it opens our eyes to what lies behind.

    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  6. I am so glad there are still lanes like that, houses like that, towns like that in this country.

    It will be a sad day when progress swallows them all up. I wonder if anyone will be around then who will really understand what’s lost.

  7. I love roads like that and sadly they are diminishing daily…well maybe not that quickly right now with the stall in the housing market. That’s fine with me. I also Love old buildings…my photo folder on my puter will attest to that. You can hear their stories sometimes, if you listen carefully.

  8. Are we not all like old houses? Our inner beauty and potential hidden behind our brambles, just waiting for someone to care enough to slow down and discover who we really are inside?

    Thank you for the lovely imagery, AM. I feel like I was in the car right next to you.

    * * *
    Indeed we are my friend, indeed we are…

  9. This part touched me:

    “I drove away thinking about how it is in winter, when all the abundance and jewelry of life falls away, that hidden things are revealed. It is then that we tend to slow down and peer into the underbrush for that glimpse of something special.
    When life is green and good, we just drive on past.”

    Oh my goodness, we are sure living a “winter” here. With my husband being out of work and no money for extras (and not enough for essentials!)it is hard to stay positive. When things are good, it’s easy to stay positive, not so easy when times are hard. I have been working on looking for the “small positives” even when they are to see, even when thery are hidden. Thanks for your beautiful writing (THAT’S not hard to see at all!)


    * * *
    There is a certain beauty to be found in the winter of suffering, a certain richness and knowledge that is hidden in times of abundance — although sometimes it is much later that those blessings become apparent. All the same, I’m sorry for your suffering right now. I wish it were not so.

  10. I love your perspective, I agree with what “Quirky” said in the comments and I wholeheartedly say “Yes!” regarding your response to “mythoughtsonthat” about the “beauty… in the winter of suffering, a certain richness and knowledge that is hidden in times of abundance”.

  11. What a great picture you gave us. Thanks for sharing. Winter to me is so fresh and clean. I love to look out the window and see the beauty snow has brought our world.

  12. Lovely post… my favorite part: “I drove away thinking about how it is in winter, when all the abundance and jewelry of life falls away, that hidden things are revealed. It is then that we tend to slow down and peer into the underbrush for that glimpse of something special.”

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Reminds me of the hidden house in one of Jan Karon’s Mitford books. A lost soul lived there. Did he stay lost? Well…

  14. I was going to quote Robert Frost today and chose your words instead. I credited “Antique Mommy”. Debated whether I was supposed to use your real name. What’s the protocol? Since you are going to be quoted often you might as well decide. : )

  15. What a coincidence, I was just commenting to my husband yesterday how I love being the passenger and getting to spy out the previously-invisible portions of people’s properties in the winter. I just wish I could slow to a walk and see them even better. Though it does feel sneaky.

    There are so many interesting old homes around here, big and small, and somehow I feel even MORE drawn to them when they are crumbling and overgrown. I wish I could explore every nook and cranny of all of them!

  16. I love how insightful you are. It’s good to put your thoughts in my brain. I have to just feel good that I remember to pick up my one son (who goes to a charter school) from school every day. You’d think that would be easy to remember . . .

  17. Well done. Beautiful writing.

    I love all of the seasons. Winter for me is the season of faith. It is the anticipation of hope.

  18. I agree wth jenni. We have one in the neighborhood. A family relocated here from WWI. He was struck by lightening shortly after and she and the young girl went on. After she died, the young girl was taken in by family in Europe and returned. The house seems to cry out. They all haave there stories.

  19. “…the jewelry of life…” How exquisite is that thought?!? Jewelry looks fun and lovely, sometimes adding sparkle and interest to an outfit. But other times, it distracts–even detracts–from the simple lines, the basic structure of a well-designed garment. Indeed, with all it’s wonderfulness, it is sometimes just too heavy to be comfortable–and when one takes it off, breathes a sigh of relief.

  20. Hi..we have several houses like that close to us…and some that still have families or someone living in them…and boy what I wouldn’t give to know the stories behind them all….”if walls could talk”???? great entry…hugs from Ora in Kentucky

  21. Wow, what an interesting post. I could just imagine you ducking your head a bit, struggling to see more detail.

    This is a very poignant sentiment for me right now. When all of the fancy trappings fall away, are we contented with that which is left behind?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *