Flowers for sharing

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

There is a very worn adage that everyone has a story to tell. Yet people really don’t tell stories, they share them.
Geraldine McKee lives in Caldwell and is one of those fixtures of a community. She called one afternoon, wanting to share her flowers.
“Mr. Miller came by and he said that I should share these flowers with others and I’d like you to come see them,” she said. McKee is originally from Person County and she married Samuel McKee, who died after 15 years of marriage. They had two boys and a daughter (Earl, David and Gail). “This farm is from the 1700s,” she said, gesturing to the field of corn and the pasture. “When Samuel passed, I stayed here. This is home,” she said.
Hummingbirds are fighting and competing for sugar; wings need sugar to sustain flight and fight, too. “I come out here and can barely get the water in the container and they are all around me; sometimes they land in my hair,” McKee said of the hummingbirds.
The farm is a working farm; tobacco and chickens once supported it. The agriculture is more diversified now.
“I once had 15,000 chickens; but, it became too much to handle,” McKee said. From being a farm-wife, McKee went to Burlington Industries, then Blue Cross Blue Shield, a private practice in Chapel Hill and then to the Register of Deeds office in Hillsborough and she retired as an employee of Emergency Management in 1996. McKee is a member of the Little River Church and has served in various capacities in the community, including an auxiliary member of the Fire Department.
“Now, I volunteer at the Senior Center. I answer the phone, give reminders and just do whatever I can do to help,” she said.
Of her flowers, McKee backs up and talks about the home place. “The house is very old and over 100 years. It has been remodeled and I had this outside patio done with brick pavers, this is where I spend most of my time,” McKee said. There are two rocking chairs here, both face to the gentle East and she is quick to point out the 12 ferns among the 15 different varieties of plants in various stages of bloom and color. “These ferns are going to be in a wedding in two weeks,” McKee said excitedly. “These flowers are my love,” she said.
McKee talks fluidly about her grandchildren and her own children, and she says she is most known in the family for her pound cake and chocolate pie with meringue. “My grandkids call me Grammy, Maw-Maw, Mee-Maw, or Mrs. McKee,” she said, laughing. Still, it is her flowers and the peace and quiet of this place that McKee is most fond. “I just like coming out here and being among the flowers and seeing what they provide to others that see them,” she said.
McKee doesn’t have any idea how much time and effort she spends with them every week. She does store them inside during the year. “This summer I have not had to water them very much,” McKee said.
From her rocking chair, McKee talks effortlessly about her family and the happenings in the community and about what it was like to be a farm wife and how she remains involved in this community. She plants the flowers here because she enjoys the colors and she enjoys sharing with others what is also special for her. From her garden atop these brick-pavers, McKee stands among the flowers and she admires them as flowers should be. The hummingbird’s play and the mosquitos do not bother her. Here, Geraldine McKee shares. Around her, the scenery and the language of nature shares, too.
Have a feature for Jason Hawkins; please contact him at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.