Hello garden gals and guys! You may be wondering what in the WORLD Dr. Maya Angelou has to do with my garden, but just keep reading. I promise I haven’t flipped my lid! I was in NC this past weekend to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday party. As you may (or may not) know, Dr. Maya Angelou lived in Winston-Salem, which is only about 20 or so minutes from my folks’ home.
Well, we needed a diversion to get my mom out of the house, so that everyone could arrive and set up for her surprise birthday party. It was an amazing coincidence that Dr. Angelou’s family decided to have an estate sale on the day of my mother’s surprise party.
Maya Angelou is my MOST favorite author of ALL time. The opportunity to walk in her home was one I couldn’t pass up. So myself, my mom, and three of my cousins piled in my mom’s minivan and off we went!
When we arrived, there was no parking on the street. But her neighbors shamefully took advantage of this and were selling spots in their driveways for five bucks a piece. We, of course, paid because my mother cannot walk far distances.
The first thing we did was take pictures in front of the estate sale. This is my solo picture:
After about two hours in line (I think?), we finally made it through the front gate. They were letting folks in by groups of 30. Here is a picture my cousin took of the front of Dr. Angelou’s home. That is my beautiful younger cousin in the forefront, with me in the background with my daughter, preparing to take a picture of me on the front porch:
Photo courtesy of my wonderful cousin, Maria.
Here I am on her porch. I just imagined that she greeted many people on those steps, and I had to capture the moment.
Here is another picture of me, my mom, my daughter, and my cousins at the front gate to Dr. Angelou’s home.
When I stepped inside of her home, I had to stop at the front door. I just couldn’t believe that I was standing there! It was a very auspicious moment for me. All I could think was “this is where she was….a woman I admired more deeply than I can express.” I actually got very teary-eyed. I don’t think anyone understood how much it meant for me to be there.
Well, most everything was gone by the time we got there on Saturday (the sale began the previous Thursday). What was left were towels, sheets, LOTS of books, paintings (which were THOUSANDS of dollars!), and other odds and ends. Everyone was buying her books and other household items. I truly wish I could have afforded this painting. It is the way I remember her most from my years as a young woman:
As we were walking through the home, what impressed me most was how simple her home was inside. It was very dated. Pink walls and pink carpet, dated bathrooms, simple curtains. It really took me aback. Here was the home of one of the most magnificent minds to walk this Earth, and her home was just….home. Here is a picture of her kitchen. I imagine she had many wonderful moments here, cooking for family, and friends (like Oprah!):
Do you see what I mean? There is nothing at all pretentious about this kitchen. Oh the wisdom that must have been shared around wonderful meals in that place. It was humbling. I think people missed it when they were there, which made me sad. People were acting like vultures…moving with reckless abandon through every room grabbing whatever they could. They truly missed what this moment was.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my mother bought me a cooking pan from Dr. Angelou’s kitchen..for a dollar! It was worth far more than that to me! I will smile every time I use it (and maybe wax a little poetic).
While everyone else was grabbing paintings, books, and other things, I ventured outside. Y’all know I love farming/gardening, so when I saw this, I let out a little yelp. It was her greenhouse!
I know she was an immensely busy woman, but I’d like to think she spent some time in here. Here is another view of the path from the backyard up to the greenhouse. I have to give my cousin, Maria, credit for this beautiful photo.
Photo courtesy of my cousin, Maria.
When I walked in, I found a green basket (which matched my purse exactly). It was sitting there, covered in some dirt and spider webs, of no value to anyone. I cleaned it off for the picture.
I found two more of them in another small storage area in the back of the house. I paid a dollar a piece for them. Here is a picture of me in the greenhouse with my treasured find.
Photo courtesy of my cousin, Maria.
The grounds of her home were truly an oasis. I could see her there, shutting herself off from the world, slowing down to enjoy time with family and dear friends.
Here is a photo I took of part of the back of her home. It was really quite large, and I don’t want to make this post too long with too many pictures. The backyard was very large, as well. At one time there was a pool and a tennis court, which are now concrete patios (thank you for that nugget of information, Dawn!)
Here is a picture of me and my daughter on Dr. Angelou’s deck. Again, I pictured Dr. Angelou there, letting the many trees that surrounded the perimeter of her yard blow gentle breezes upon her face.
Next up is this masterpiece, where I imagine many cookouts have taken place. Now, see that planting there to the right? That is a fig tree. I asked one of the staff if I could have a cutting of it to take home with me. He said yes, and didn’t charge me for it!
I do hope my cutting takes. I put it in water immediately and cared for it until we got back home to Maryland. So, that was my little adventure for the weekend…and what a weekend it was! When I got back home, I put a little rooting compound on the bottom of that cutting, and placed it in a pot I bought just for it. I named her Maya.
So, from Dr. Angelou’s greenhouse to mine, here are the baskets and my cutting:
You only see two of the three baskets I bought in this picture. That’s because I used the other to harvest my tomatoes that ripened while I was away.
I treasure every word that Dr. Maya Angelou chose to share with the world. But I never dreamed that I would have something of my very own to treasure that once belonged to her.
So, that’s it garden gals and guys. Until next time….
That was sooo beautiful. The way you wove your story together. I remember how excited you were the first time I drove you past her house a few years back (it was blue then, remember?) Wish you could have met her, but at least you got to experience her
environment in your own way.
Love you dearly,
Beautiful story.I remember you growing up always telling me how Maya Angelou was
you favorite author(still have all the books she published in storage)I glad you were able
to see her home and walk the grounds.I know you were in awe of it all.
Audra – what a great story of someone you admired so much. Can you tell us some of the books she has written. All the girls in your family are beautiful.
Thanks, Mom! I am glad I got to share that experience with you.
Frank, gosh there are sooo many! If you do a google search on her name all of her books and poems that she wrote will come up. One of her most famous books is "I know why the caged bird sings." My favorite poem by her is Phenomenal Woman (if you put that title in Google the poem will come up).
WOw, i'm in tears thinking about the privilege of what you got to experience there. So beautiful! I'm totally jealous. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.
Christina, I was in tears when I walked in the house. I am glad you enjoyed reading about it!
Fabulous! and nicely told. I am green with envy–as green as those baskets. Happy you had such a wonderful experience.
Yes, it was quite an experience, Ophelia!!!! Thank you for the kind words!