There are those who say that small town eccentrics are a thing of the past. Universal education has perpetuted this evil on us all by pouring us into a standard mold that slowly eradicates the populace of its most memorable characters. Don't know if that's so, but it does seem that, when I was a boy, there were more bona fide eccentrics per block than there are today.
Maybe that's nostalgia.
One of ours is off to the nursing home these days, his odd home and yard left behind in semi-ruin. For some unknown reason, this guy's penchant for flat pink quartz led him to stack it all over the yard, creating a maze of stone fences. I'm not sure where he got it all, but those odd formations made a ton of people call the place Sioux Center's own Stonehenge.
The guy never married, lived with his mother for most of his life. When she died, he was left alone. Hither and yon throughout the yard, he'd feature cast iron relics that came to look like strange lawn decorations (no kissing Dutch kids), often stacked atop his quartz fencelines.
But, he's been gone for more than year now, and the paint on the old house is peeling. It's difficult--and even scary--to imagine what it must look like inside the house, especially if one judges by the mess in the yard, a jungle.
Yesterday, riding by on my bike, I couldn't help notice a couple of bright red tulips amid the chaos, three of them actually, blooming like joy from antic growth all around.
Someday, I'm sure the owner will be gone, the house will be dealt with one way or another, and the yard will get cleaned up and presentable. Maybe the new owner will raze the old house all together. But you can bet that someone will put down tree bark or stones around brand new ornamental crabs. Soon enough Stonehenge will look just like any other stable, ordered corner of town.
Later, I went back with the camera. There was just something cool about those bright red tulips in that glorious mess. Just something worth noting, something, oddly out of place but wonderful, something eccentric.