Enchantment July 23, 2020 Number 17 – Cottage Driveway

What do you get when you mix a new Sunday School dress, white shoes and soxes, with tiny pebbles too irresistible to leave in the driveway? The answer does not involve a gold star.

I really, really craved those shiny gold stars, one after another, but sometimes a girl has to go for broke and roll around in the dusty aftermath of “whack a mole”. As a pretend cook, I thrilled at filling my Grandmother’s Fiestaware with tiny rocks from the driveway.

Stone soup was on the menu, of course. Afterwards while I waited for the Griffith church delegation to load the car, I tried to smooth over the uneven spots left behind. Punishment involved a swat with a newspaper by my grandfather CM, but there was no shame in that nor associated trauma because cottage driveways are worth a dusty shade of pinafore.

The legacy of this enchantment came rolling back last week when I drove over to a friend’s cottage style house. D and I also do our living within the same sort of architecture. The definition of cottage is “a typically modest, often cozy dwelling in a rural location.” As my children say – “that’s my jam.”

There is often another complimentary accessory to these structures. Cottages like the Griffith house built in the early 1900s had driveways which consisted of two strips of concrete (for each set of tires), paving the way to an arched covering and attached by way of stair steps to an open front porch. After dropping people off undercover, the driver would continue on to a garage, but my people never did so with their one consistently grey/blue sedan.

My friend’s driveway is more like the ones from the 1800s. Its charm is enhanced by the eclectic masses of flowers waving in the breeze which celebrate the destination. As she handed over some seeds to plant in my backyard, I thought in delight of our shared bohemian esthetic.

Ten year old Elodie reports that she wants to decorate her bedroom in bohemian chic, not far from the grandmother tree who is attracted to the “socially unconventional in an artistic way.” I thought about the heat my parents took after the completion of their unusual house and pea gravel driveway in 1968.

Their idea was to create a modern compliment to nature. The design was one from my father’s hand. Early on he served as draftsman to his architect father and later relaxed by drawing house plans – “socially unconventional in an artistic way.”

He explained that a pebble driveway was preferential because it harmonized with the outdoors. My grandmother referred to it as the mother-in-law trap. A refill was required from time to time whereupon we took in the sights of a dump truck and the swishing sound of sifting pebblettes.

All that to say, our house has a long, wide concrete driveway. Children have enjoyed the bike riding venue, but I think it longs for pebble-soul. Even the cracks from years of service are without appeal. As Joni Mitchell sings, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone – they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Despite Mitchell’s harbinger of sorrow, concrete paving has continued to be the American way unless you come into this world with a distinct affection for asphalt paving which is even sadder.

I’ll just take this moment and grieve for all who’ve never had the lucky chance to ride the crunch that leads homeward to a quaint garage and backyard alley. And that sounds like yet another tale for enchantment. Sniff.