The Haven: The Beginning

Reader Contribution by Karen Kirkpatrick

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.

—Anne Bradstreet, c. 1612-1672

For those of you who create corn, beans, potatoes, and hundreds of other foods from acres and acres of dirt; for those of you who create red, blue, yellow and white flowers from acres and acres of dirt; and, for those of you who produce food and/or flowers but on a smaller scale, spring is a joyous time.

However, for those of you, perhaps like me, who have small plots of land waiting to become food and/or flowers, spring can be a time of adversity. Why? Because we know, from past experience, that we have “black thumbs,” defined as “the inability to bring anything out of the ground other than dirt clinging to your thumb,” and have had little luck gardening. But this year will be different. Right? Right! We will become members of the “Green Thumb Society,” defined as “the society designated only for that rare, talented group of humans with like-thumbs who bring food and/or flowers out of the earth.” Intimidating! But I’m up for it. Let the battle begin!

Armed with gloves, hat, rakes, kneeling pads (notice – plural), shovel, spade, hoe, and numerous other tools I was told I needed to become a green-thumber, I survey my small plot. Instead of a feeling of “let’s get at it”, panic took over and I fought hard to not drop all of my newly purchased equipment and run back into the house to the safety of my computer. However, I took the “Road Not Taken” (thank you, Mr. Frost), stood still and talked to my yard. I told it I would learn all I could about taking care of it and together, with its cooperation, we would have a yard to be proud of. Sound strange? Well, in the face of impending defeat, we humans often do strange things. However, before I go any further in this narrative, let me describe my little corner of the world.


My home is part of the Southmore Mutual Housing Corporation. I know, the name sounds rather cold and unfeeling, like a steel and glass high-rise in some large city – but Southmore is far from that. We are located in South Bend, Indiana, and enjoy 48 acres of grass and trees, with woods on one side. There are 72 buildings housing 314 condo/apartment homes – an idyllic environment for people, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossums and deer. Southmore is “a little bit city and a little bit country” and a marvelous place to live.


Southmore has an interesting history, dating back to the early war years of World War II. During the War, the government made available grant monies and loans for factories that were producing needed war armaments throughout the United States. These monies were used to build housing for workers who relocated to assist with this effort. In South Bend, at least three such housing developments were built – the company that built Southmore was Studebaker. At the end of the war, some of these housing areas were turned into apartments or businesses and some were torn down. Fortunately, the people who lived in Southmore decided to form a corporation, buy the housing complex and convert it into a privately owned housing community. Those who invested in Southmore purchased their units; however, the corporation kept some units as rentals to pay for expenses on the property. Through insight, foresight and love of the area, what started as war housing is now a wonderfully comfortable place to call home.

Now that the scene is set, the next post will feature The Backyard. Oh yes, Early says hi.

Early does love his apples.

  • Published on Apr 9, 2015
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