Farmdale Inspiration

This a rendering of the Leroy Post Office, Leroy, Alabama - Big Napp's hometown.


My cousin, Julia Harwell Segar, captured in watercolor and pencil the very essence of this timber framed, metal roof clad building back in 1977 - five years before I was born. This painting has hung at my Mimi and Granddaddy's house my entire life, yet it wasn't until design classes at Auburn would I learn that roofline was a "clipped hip" type of gable... I just knew I liked the look of it.

When I first saw Spitzmiller and Norris' rendering of Farmdale Cottage, I knew it was meant to be the "look" of my home. Farmdale boasts a prominent center gable with a clipped hip: a feature I've longed for with that sense of longing a home can bring to a Southerner's nostalgic mindset. And I didn't tell my architects this either - serendipitous and divine perhaps...

We are a people influenced by our people. Genetics don't lend us eye color and balding patterns alone, they give us our taste and even design prowess I think. An artist friend of mine who moved from The South after college said longingly that he "thought Southerners were innately good artists and designers. It's in blood. Just look at their homes!"

I concur with my friend. My family has a saying we refer to as "seed corn." Meaning, that an ear of corn can drop "seed" or it's kernels and generations can sprout forth from there. Yet, the seed corn may produce exact genetic replicas or maybe even different versions. Taller stalked, longer leaved, speckled kernels ... Whatever the outcome of the seed corn's germination, sometimes something really interesting happens a generation or two later.

I love cooking, design, blue and white china, gardening and walking down our country road (not running mind you). I love my family and love feeding them. These aren't unique qualities by any stretch, but my great-grandmother, Eugenia Tate Granade, loved all these things too. These exact same things.

I'm her seed corn. Though I never knew her, my affinity for birds, love of country, bucolic landscapes, admiration for pansies and violas and nandina berries and walks in the country are directly from her. Big Napp has always told me I reminded him of his mama - one of my highest complements and honors.

Mrs. Genie Granade is my great-grandmother of mention while Jeanie Granade Farmer was my mother - a little more seed corn for y'all. Mrs. Genie loved writing too - and was a stickler for grammar. I get that from her too. Mrs. Genie would quickly correct anyone out of love, for she loved the King's English and her students too much to speak incorrectly. She believed as I do that it is absolutely and perfectly wonderful to be from towns like Leroy or Perry or Hawkinsville - just don't give those towns a bad reputation with your speech! I've terrified too many friends with grammatical corrections. I'm not a grammar saint by any measure, but I do believe that folks do not know they're using the pronoun "I" incorrectly - it's a rampant epidemic!!! Another post for another time y'all.

Mrs. Genie walked everyday from her small farmhouse to the Leroy post office. She also drank one small "co-cola" everyday too. This several mile walk was her exercise, and she tread this path nearly year round and well into her twilight years. Akin to Miss Elizabeth Bennett's belief in the nobility of walking the English countryside, Mrs. Genie's jaunts to the post office were parallel in her belief too that these walks were enlightening, dignified and superb for one's mental and physical well being.

Now, as Farmdale Cottage is taking shape, I'm seeing the roofline come to life and can't help but be reminded of the Leroy post office. Maybe this seed corn has indeed sprouted up like his great-grandmother in a landscape he loves and surrounded by family too. And maybe, just maybe, if I look down my country road with hope and whimsy and nostalgia, I might see Mrs. Genie walking towards Farmdale. I'll have a "co-cola" in a small glass bottle awaiting her.