Half a century ago, it was still possible to amble across a hayfield on the hill where I was born and come upon the stone-walled cellar hole of a house that had been burned down or had been abandoned and had fallen in. Always you found these simple roses growing there. The cellar holes are still there but the woods has taken over the fields now, and roses do not grow in shade.
But I have found other lost gardens.
I go through the woods in the park half a block from my home and wend my way up to what I call the ridge trail.
It must be an abandoned road that the parks people mow. I know that at one point before the place became a municipal park, it was a golf course. I have literally stumbled over the water pipes that watered the greens, But this road seems to go even further back than that. In the early spring, I would pass lilac bushes in bloom at intervals, which suggest that once there were houses dotted along it. One late spirea is still hanging on.
There hardly seems to be enough room at the edge of the road for substantial buildings. The land falls steeply off on both sides. I wonder if these were summer cottages. They would have been near the mouth of the river and in walking distance of Lake Ontario. Then I note that people have planted rhubarb.
And there are honey locusts that were covered in white flowers last week.
They are young trees, so they are puzzling. Locusts are not native to these parts, but we planted one in the yard of that house under the hill I talked about in my post on Gatsby. (115journals.com) And I see very tall ones on Davenport Rd, maybe 70 ft. high. Perhaps they are evidence of the golf course, but it has been gone for 50 years, in which case they would be taller. They must have self-seeded as most of the woods did once it was let to grow.
Eventually, the trail leads to a small stand of pine trees and just past them a monument to the early European explorers, including Etienne Brulé, who was the first of them to sight the big lake. Then it is down a steep hill to the river, a story for another day.