The dense hard passage is blind and stifled, That crawls by a track none turn to climb To the strait waste place that the years have rifled Of all but the thorns that are touched not of Time; The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;
The rocks are left when he wastes the plain; The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken, These remain.
AS "trees will grow while one sleeps," according to the old adage, we made planting our first business, and left setting the place in order to come later, for it seemed to promise an indefinite job, everything having gone more or less to rack and ruin during its period of abandonment and desolation.
The forlornness of an old, neglected farm is largely owing to the condition of its trees and shrubs, which, being left to themselves, take on a tumble-down, half-dead look that often belies their real condition. A few decayed trees bring all the others into disrepute, like a grog-shop in an otherwise respectable neighborhood, and untrimmed shrubs are as unbecoming as unkempt hair.
When we came to examine matters at Overlea, as we named our acquisition, from its command of the meadow, we found that a good sweeping and dusting would do wonders for it, and with that enthusiasm for setting to rights inborn in the New England breast, we prepared for a grand redding up.
While the grading of the knoll was going on preparatory to building the house, our factotum, appropriately named Blossom, since his function was to adorn the place, was busily employed in removing all the unsightly dead limbs from among the live ones, and in hewing down such old Pear and Apple trunks as proved hopeless.
The logs and branches were dragged away to the wettest place in the meadow at the back of the knoll, and transformed into a corduroy road, by which one could pass dry-shod out into the rear street. This floating rubbish, supported by the tangled grass on the marsh, formed a foundation upon which, after inserting a plank water-way at the bottom, for the ebb and flow of the tide, we subsequently built a substantial carriage-road of stones and gravel, which now affords a back en-trance to the stable and kitchens.
The palings of the fence were removed for kindlings, but the posts and rails were left to form a slight boundary until the hedges and tree rows should be fairly established; the straggling shrubs were trimmed into better shape, the Box-arbor clipped and cleared of weeds, trailing vines were taught once more the use of a trellis, and the grass was mown and raked clean of the last year's rowan.
Fierce war was made upon the Burdock and Mint and Horse-radish that had squatted everywhere on the land; load after load of the accumulated rubbish of years was buried under the corduroy road, and hidden from view with gravel; the Pear-trees were carefully pruned and tied up, and the old Grape trellis stiffened with new posts and lattices.
When all this was done, and it was no brief job, the place took on a civilized air truly surprising, but, like the boy's washing his face, which cost his father a thousand dollars, the felling of the first ragged old tree was an entering wedge of improvements that found no end.
The clearing up revealed unsuspected beauties and possibilities in the old place, and at the end of it we had taken an account of stock, and were aware that we had become owners of a treasure-house of enjoyments. But the charms and wealth of that old garden are "another story," which remains to be told later.