One day I offered my choir the opportunity to come dig some up (more like a gentle pull) for their own yards and Walter asked if I could spare about thirty.
"Absolutely," I said.
I told him I would even transport the shooted shrubs to his house and help him plant them, as he was long in the tooth.
As we traversed to his back yard which had been in his family for three generations, it opened up to a large and capacious temple of green. He had flower beds, several fountains flowing in braided and songfull peace, benches and threading walkways meandering circuitously to flower laden dead ends. At the back end of his yard, glimmering through the green distance was a ten foot opening amidst the overgrowth which exposed an asphalt bike path. Walter said that peripatetic people passing by would often stop and admire his yard and some of them would occasionally tramp on in. It was his hope that if he could plant two lines of thick shrubs, it would still give something for people to admire but also keep their prying eyes and their trampling trespassing off his grass. It was a good plan.
While we were working on this rank of roses relocation project, Walter told me that the bike path was not always a promenade for pedestrians. It was originally a railroad which started out in the city of Fonda, passed through the city of Johnstown, stopped in the glove city of Gloversville, then made its way further up into the Adirondacks making stops at small towns and lakes of various fame and import such as Mayfield, Northville and the Great Sacandaga Lake. Walt remembered as a child, witnessing the rumble, roar and rattle with precision timing of each train, maintaining the strictest and most reliable of schedules.
Walter also keenly remembered the multitude of hobos who would be walking the rails and almost daily, one or several of them would cut through his back yard and politely knock on the door asking if there was any food or water to be spared. Although Walter's family was poor, his mom never turned anyone away empty handed. Walter said that she could stretch one can of tuna fish into several sandwiches if she had to, and it was always good. She was a magician in the kitchen.
One day when Walter was about ten years of age, the police knocked on their door and showed his mom a picture of a man whom they had an arrest warrant for. Walt's mom said that she didn't recognize the man but, she gets a lot of wayfarers knocking on her door looking for water or scraps. The police told her it was because her house was marked. She never heard of such a thing. The officer went on to tell her that the hobos who follow the railways will mark a house or establishment where they may receive assistance or a handout. The officer then asked,
"Would you like for us to remove the mark for you?"
Walter's mom paused for a good fifteen seconds, looked down at him, then replied,
"No. Leave it."
The following weekend, Walt, his brother and their dad embarked on a project running an underground pipe from the house leading to the edge of the yard near the tracks where they installed a faucet and placed a basin beneath. They also placed nearby a small box with tin cups inside. Walter's mom ramped up her baking and kept a hearty stock of peanut butter and tuna in the pantry for unexpected visitors. The following summer, they moved their barbeque to the center of the yard and if a transient trekker traipsed by, he would be greeted with a hearty wave. If he happened to turn into the yard, that was his lucky day.