As part of the series, The Power of Words, I thought I’d change up a bit and focus on descriptive words; in this case, words that describe a place. The effect that words make should allow you to see the place, a place you’ve never been before. It’s why award-winning stories like The Color Purple, the Harry Potter series, etc. are so compelling because we understand what Alice Walker meant by “I [Shug, says] think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” Why? Because the color purple usually describes royalty, and God is royal, regal.
Or, simply, reading these words from J.K. Rowling, “Hogwarts is built in a valley area—surrounding mountains are part of the landscape—with the fairly large Great Lake to the south of the main building. The huge main oak front doors leading into the Entrance Hall face the west, and open up to sloping lawns. The deep Forbidden Forest extends around to the west of the Castle. There are also exterior greenhouses and vegetable patches on the school grounds.” You understand that this place is not small at all.
Here’s my addition to the world of descriptive words that defines a place. I wrote this when I was a sophomore in college—enjoy!
Seeing the daffodils alongside Mary’s long, circular driveway reminded me of the first time I visited Staten Island as a child. I remembered how the trees shone with the rays of the sun, and the grass sparkled with dew as the sun rose over the water. Walking on the cobble street up to Mary’s house was an adventure all by itself. The area was exciting because her house was just off the Hudson Bay. Her parents owned a small boat in which we used to take trips up and down the bay. Being at Mary’s house would always allow me to smell the fresh air the island had that was so hard to find in the city. The air had no impurities, which enabled me to smell the flowers, the sea water, barbecues, and sometimes freshly-cut grass.
On the island there was one palm tree. It was strange someone planting a palm tree—especially because the island wasn’t in a tropical climate. The climate being cold nine months out of the year may explain why the three didn’t mature—it only grew to be four feet tall. Instead of the tree having green leaves and being alive in the summer winds, it just stood there—more like a weeping willow. The island not being part of the mainland encouraged the Mayor of New York City to dedicate the tree to the island because both were rare in nature. Now the tree doesn’t stand, but in its place is a plaque made of bronze as a reminder to those who knew it and those who heard about it.
As I reach Mary’s front door, the soft breeze allows me to realize many new things about the island. The block Mary used to live on was once filled with lively children playing stick-ball, football, and hopscotch in the street outside their homes. Today, the kids play in their backyards where their parents can keep an eye on them. They can also go down to the local youth center where there are organized activities for them. There were three new additions to the neighborhood, two of the additions I expected because of the changing times. It did not surprise me to see more locks on the doors, nor did it surprise me to see new alarm systems, but what surprised me more than anything else on the island were the protective gates.
I never would have thought the people of the island would take its beauty away as they did by putting up those gates. All the gates were black, with arrowheads at both ends. Most of them looked as though they were out of the Middle Ages. The gates reminded me of stories I’ve read about the Roman Catholic Church, one in particular The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The gates created dark clouds over the island that took away the picturesque beauty of the homes. All of these additions on the island did not trouble the people, but they trouble me. I couldn’t understand why no one seemed to mind them. No one would have ever thought that the island would look more like a scene from The Hunchback of Notre Dame than a scene from Beauty and the Beast.