Sticks and stones

Published 11:23 pm Friday, August 19, 2011

Charlotte Adamson has been collecting cypress knees and driftwood for years. She and her husband, Kimble, collect the pieces along the Pea and Conecuh rivers and at Lake Eufaula and use them to decorate their property at Little Sandridge. Adamons says her love of antiques and nature are expressed in the pieces of wood she uses to decorate fencelines and gardens. (Photo/Jaine Treadwell)

Adamson finds art in aging cypress trees

If Charlotte Adamson could have her wish, then she would have her husband dig up the aging cypress tree from its place on Pea River’s dry bottom and replant it in the middle of her front yard.

Of course, Kimble Adamson can’t do that. The roots of the old tree have spread in tangled directions and have such a grip on the river bottom that it would never let go.

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But, oh, how Adamson would like to have it in her yard.

Even though the old tree would probably steal the show from the fascinating outdoor display that Adamson has created for herself and others to enjoy, she wouldn’t mind at all. The old tree’s unusual beauty is deserving of center stage.

Adamson has been collecting driftwood, cypress knees and other interesting roots and gnarled limbs for several years.

She can’t remember when she started to realize the beauty of old wood. However, it was probably as she and her husband floated down the rivers – the Pea and Conecuh – and paddled around Lake Eufaula.

“I’ve always liked antiques, just anything old. Even old wood,” Adamson said. “Kimble and I like to fish so we would be on the rivers a lot. Sometimes we would just ride and look. The rivers are different and there’s so much to see.

“It’s so pretty the way the water comes out of the banks from springs and comes in from other creeks. All long the river, you’ll see cypress knees and driftwood of different sizes and shapes. We’d get the pieces that we just couldn’t leave behind.”

Getting the pieces they found interesting and irresistible wasn’t always easy.

Sometimes, the “sticks” would be floating at the river’s edge and were easy pickings. Other times, the couple had to climb the riverbank to get a piece they had spied.

“If a cypress knee that was out in the river caught my eye, there was no way that we could get the river bottom to let go of it, so Kimble would take the saw and saw it off,” Adamson said, laughing and noting that not all wood wonders are a woman’s work.

Many times, Adamson found a piece of wood that was so large or so heavy that it took several men to heave it into the boat.

No matter how they gathered the wood, the Adamsons would return home with a cargo of interesting wood and Charlotte would add it to her growing collection.

Neither of the Adamsons tired of riding the rivers and they hardly ever “put in” without bringing back some offering of Mother Nature.

“After a big rain, the river will come up and go back down and, when it does, you never know what you will find,” she said.

As Adamson scavenged the riverbanks and bottoms, she found “wooden” treasures that were unique and special and deserving of a place where others could admire and enjoy their beauty.

She needed a place to display her collection. Just where, she wasn’t sure. But, then, the answer was right there before her.

“We have a fence that’s a property line. It runs along side our house. About two years ago, I started hanging the wood on the fence – driftwood, cypress, lightered or whatever,” she said. “Sometimes, I would put little antique pieces that I’d had found on the fence. I planted flowers along the fence and added some ceramic birds of different kinds – doves and redbirds – and others that I like a lot. And, on the old clothesline post, I put an owl.”

The “sticks” that Adamson hung on the fence provided an interesting backdrop for the flower gardens that she had tended for several years.

“We’ve lived at several different places – Tennille, Troy, Eufaula and down on the river in a cabin we built several years ago. I collected wood at those places but, where we lived around Troy, it was just rocks. Those iron ore rocks made nice borders for my flowerbeds and I liked the way they looked. Kind of like the wood they have different patterns so, when we moved down here on the Pea River, I brought the rocks with me.”

Some of the rocks were so heavy that they had to be mechanically loaded onto the bed of a pickup truck and hauled to the garden.

Adamson’s sticks and stones garden brings her much pleasure and she hopes that others enjoy it as well.

“We had always wanted a place like we have here on the river,” she said. “Kimble wanted to have a place where he could have a youth camp. We prayed about it and our prayers were answered.”

The Adamsons own Little Sandridge just off Highway 231 south of Brundidge. But the 13 acres they own is not their own. It belongs to God. So they are more than willing to share it with youth groups, church groups and others who want to come, as it is often said, “to be one with nature.”

The Adamsons’ “sticks and stones” garden is the gateway to Little Sandridge, a special place on the Pea River where beauty is all around for those who have an eye to see it.

Charlotte Adamson has the eye.