On a wooded, secondary road that we drive to get to my parents’ home, there’s the cleared remains of what used to be a house lot. Many years ago, a man that I only ever knew as ‘Old Man Webber’ used to live in a small house of weathered shingles and very little style, in the middle of this now-deserted parcel of land. There’s no sign of this building now, though I suppose if one did a proper search, you might find signs of a foundation or other utensils that would indicate that someone once lived there.
Perhaps because it is located on such a beautiful but desolate stretch of road, I believe I always had a somewhat romantic notion of who lived there and of the life they led. Or perhaps that can be chalked up to an over-active imagination.
All the trees on the property have long since died and are hollow and rotting — perfect for nesting birds and other small critters. For whatever reason, I love old, gnarled, arthritic-looking trees. I love how their knobby fingers reach skyward as if begging for another chance, one more season.
Just over a small rise (that’s Charlie above, for perspective…he’s 6’2″) is the spot where I thought I would find some meaning, some answers, some sense of permanence about the property. Imagine my surprise when this fenced grave revealed a head stone marked with a completely different family name.
Clearly, someone has cared enough over the years to plant these lovely daffodils. The dates on the stone mark births in the mid-1800’s and deaths in the early 1910’s and 1920’s. I knew there were daffodils here as you can see them from the road, and for many years, I had always planned to take a photo of “Old Man Webber’s grave”. Clearly, the joke’s on me. The family name (Sanford) is a common one in our area, so I hope to do a little digging and see if I can find more history on this property, and how “Old Man Webber” came to live there.