A Garden Off the Oregon Coast
1.) Carmel California
I worked for Mr. Harbinger for ten years as his gardener in Carmel California. This was his vacation home and he only stayed once a year for a few months in the summer. He hired a family from Honduras to take care of his home during the times he was away and me to take care of his landscaping and gardening needs.
My shack, almost an acre away from the main home, had a bed, a kitchenette, and my own bathroom with shower. I kept my tools and landscaping equipment in a shed right next to the shack.
I heard of Mr. Harbingers death from the other caretakers.
2.) A Garden Off the Coast
I dreamt of a beautiful garden off the coast the night before I heard the news. The owner of the garden, in the dream, lived in a mansion with more rooms than used along with at least ten acres of coastal land. Three miles away from the mansion was a plot of land surrounded by Hemlock and separated into four.
A central area grew a large moss covered Spruce. Ocean grass seemed to whisper to me.
I could hardly hear but it sounded like it whispered “Come.”
3.) A Job in Oregon
Days before the auctioning of Mr. Harbingers home I rode my bike into Carmel to enjoy a coffee and pastry at “May’s Breakfast Nook.”
As I read the paper and enjoyed my coffee I noticed an advertisement in the classified section of the Carmel Times.
GARDENER NEEDED: Live in Gardener needed at large coastal garden located off the Oregon Coast. Experience and self motivation necessary along with willingness to live alone on large estate. All equipment provided with a place to stay. If interested call 1(800)233-4726.
I asked the waitress if I could keep the paper and tucked it under my arm. I tipped well and headed back to Mr. Harbinger’s garden. I am not sure why this job intrigued me. Maybe because it was the only ad for a gardener in the paper with my qualifications or maybe this was my over active imagination.
4.) A Drive Along the Coast
Days after the auction I met the new owners of Mr. Harbingers estate. They stopped by my shack and over a coffee explained how I needed to move and that my services on the property were no longer needed. I had a week to find other employment and a place to stay.
I had nothing to lose and just enough gas to drive from Carmel up the coast into Oregon so I called the number on the ad. The number belonged to a lawyer in LA who told me he never set foot on the property and never met the owner. He only took money, checked on Mr. Harbingers accounts, and made sure all of the owners wishes were met. Here is a series of instructions to give if anyone ever called.
I carefully listened and wrote each step down as he talked. First, I needed to drive to Bandon Oregon where the address, along with the keys, would be located at the local Post Office.
5.) The Bandon Post Office
Without stopping to sleep and only eating food from gas stations I drove along the coast.
I arrived at the Bandon Post Office at noon on a Monday. Bandon had one stop sign and you could see the beach from the road. The ocean crashed against the sand on each empty beach. Leaves and trash blew around empty parking lots.
I found the Post Office and parked my car. The Post Office displayed old stamps and different sizes of envelopes.
“Can I help you.” A man behind the counter stopped sorting packages and looked at me.
“Yes I need the key to 8512 Spruce, Bandon, Oregon.”
“Why do you want to go to that windblown desolate place?”
“I have been invited to work there as a full time gardener.
“Gardener. You don’t say. Can I see some I.D. please?”
I showed my Drivers license as the man behind the counter pulled out a package and handed it to me.”
“Has your name on it.” He said as he placed the package in my hand. “Cost you a dollar twenty five.”
“Sure.” I said as I pulled the money from my pocket. “How do I get there from here.”
“Pull back out onto that main road then take you first left, that will be Spruce. Drive for about twenty minutes on some narrow roads through an old forest. You will know when you arrive.”
6.) Dense Juniper Along the Coast
Coastal forest filled my mind with the image of beautiful old Northwest Conifer.
A few people walked by on the sidewalk. A mom, and a daughter, pointed at me as I started my car and headed out of the Post Office parking lot.
I returned to the main road and found Spruce with no problems and headed out onto the forested road.
Spruce, a twenty minute drive through dark shaded road, slowly wound through dense Juniper. My headlights hardly lit up a few hairpin curves as the drive went up a hill and down into a gully.
Finally, after what seemed like twenty four hours, the forest cleared into plateaus of ocean grass.
A mansion sat in the middle.
7.) The Mansion
The rock of the mansion looked weathered by the ocean wind. Branches of the mansion looked as if they would erode off a cliff face into the ocean below.
I parked the car and grabbed my day bag and decided to unload the rest once I figured my way around. The front door, made of Oak, had carvings of mythical beasts and fairies. I had never seen anything like it before and found it difficult to open.
A blast of stale air almost knocked me over as the door opened upon a dusty victorian inside. I had no desire to walk around the empty mansion and found a sliding glass door a short walk from the front door with a path on the other side.
8.) Night Falls Along the Coast
I walked down the path as it followed the coast and could hear the surf crash on the rocks below. Ocean grass grew in tall clumps along the side of the path. Every once and awhile I would pass a lone Fir Tree.
The path widened and split. I could go left, right, or straight. The side of the path was covered with dense Hemlock. The land seemed broken into four parcels separated by the path. In the center stood a giant moss covered Spruce.
I walked towards the Spruce and noticed an intricate maze of thick roots twisted and gnarled covering the ground.
At that moment the day ended and night fell upon the garden. I pulled a flashlight from my day bag. Before I flipped on the flashlight I noticed that the moss covered Spruce emitted a soft glowing green light that lit up the garden from one corner of the rectangle to the other.
9.) The Moss Covered Spruce
“You are chosen.” A voice filled my ears. I looked around and only saw Hemlock trees and ocean grass. “You must return to Earth so that we can live.”
The roots started to move beneath me as I noticed strange white lights flicker in the air. I turned around and ran, with my day bag, the flashlight beam leading the way.
“Once you have been chosen there is no escape.”
“No escape from what?!” I thought as I ran down the path towards the mansion. The forest seemed to close in behind me as I ran and I could feel the pine brush the back of my feet. “I don’t understand what is going on here! Please leave me alone!”
I did not wish to enter the mansion again but I opened the sliding glass door and ran to the front door.
Once in front, I found my car and turned the ignition, quickly pulled away down Spruce into the forest. Thick pine seemed to push into the road.
10.) Mother and Daughter
Darkness dimmed my headlights to only a few feet ahead of me. I drove at five miles an hour for what seemed to be most of the night.
Somewhere out in the darkness to my left I saw the mother and daughter from Bandon. They walked ahead of me and stopped to watch my headlamps as I approached.
“My God!” I thought. “What the hell are they doing here?!”
I slammed on my brakes and quickly opened the car door.
“Come in. Quick. Come in. Quick. Close the door.” I started to move the car forward into the blackness again.
“Thank you.” The young mother said as she held her daughter on her lap. “It is so cold and we are lost.”
“Why? Why are you in the woods so late?” I asked with hopes a conversation would calm my nerves and provide some answers.
“For you.” The daughter said.
Within the rear view mirror I could see the daughters eyes glow like the Spruce in the garden.
“Why me?” Terror grabbed me and I froze as the car stood still.
“It is the only way John Harbinger can get his soul back. His promise to the Dryad must be kept to ensure balance.”
“Balance!” I screamed as I pushed the gas pedal to the ground and jumped out my car door onto the road.
“You cannot escape us.” I heard as the car sped forward until nothing remained but darkness.
Distance lost all meaning along with time. When I arrived in town the sun rose over the tops of the buildings. Tired to the bone I could only think of warm coffee and a place to sit.
I saw a cafeteria across the street. As I walked I could feel the pavement under my shoes and felt grateful.
Three steps towards the Coffee Shop across the street and a car hit my thigh at about thirty miles an hour. I felt my femur shatter and could only lay on the ground searching for breath. I heard a car door open and close. Footsteps echoed on my shattered eardrums.
“We will always find you. Come fill your role and share your blood with the spirits of the trees as promised.” The post man stood over me with his eyes glowing green like the giant Spruce.
12.) The Dryad
Now I am a root of the tree. Another spirit to dance with the Dryad.
Halloween poems by Jamie Lee Hamann: