Monday, June 22, 2009

Mr. Sunderland's Flowers

Mr. Sunderland lived at 14 Morning Glory Circle in Cloverdale. He was Cloverdale’s Post Master until he retired fifteen years ago. As Post Master he became acquainted with the citizens of Cloverdale. He knew many of us on a first name basis and always gave a warm personal greeting when the line at the Post Office deposited you at his window.

Mr. Sunderland loved flowers. His front and back gardens on Morning Glory Circle were blanketed in all the spectrum’s colors. His flowers were tenderly cared for by he and his wife Rose until she passed away ten years ago. After her death he became more obsessed with his flowers - caring for them morning, noon and night. His gardens went from fantastic to marvelous to breathtaking to unmatched (except for the formal gardens found in Capital City).

Every summer Mr. Sunderland decorated a small float for the community parade. This picture shows him wearing his festival costume while making a last minute inspection before the parade's start down the High Street. The highlight of his year was walking beside his float while waving to his friends and admirers. Every little girl he passed received a flower plucked right from the float. By parade's end entire sections of the float were blossomless. The remaining flowers were given to the children waiting at the parade's end in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

Mr. Sunderland showed his love for community by sending freshly cut flowers from his gardens to every marriage and funeral in the village. He delivered his floral arrangements in full formal dress fitting the occasion. As the season passed and the days grew short, his gardens lost their color. By the first frost his yard was brown and bare. Mr. Sunderland would wait patiently through the cold winter until spring brought new plantings, and color once again radiated from 14 Morning Glory Circle.

Mr. Sunderland died in February. On the day of his funeral the Lutheran Church was filled with flowers from the citizens of Cloverdale. There were so many arrangements the funeral home lined the sidewalk from the church's parking lot to the chapel with flowers. Hundreds of villagers lined the street leading from the church to the village cemetery throwing flower pedals before the hearse as it passed slowly by carrying their beloved Flower Man.

At the end of the day, in the dark of winter, one patch of ground in Cloverdale looked like the very breath of Spring in all its colorful glory. And at its center slept Mr. Sunderland, beside his lovely Rose, the flower of his life.

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