Annie Cheatham: A fond farewell

  • 515 Sunderland Road, Amherst, seen in October 2018. GOOGLE MAPS

Friday, May 17, 2019

Last week, a yellow Caterpillar bulldozer arrived at 515 Sunderland Rd. and knocked down the building that formerly housed Annie’s Garden and Gift Store. A friend who drives by the site each day told me about it, and I drove down the next day to see for myself.

It was a sunny, warm day. The buds on the crabapple tree next to the second greenhouse were swelling. A large toad jumped out of the weeds into the full water garden. Redwings whistled in the field behind. The sounds of cars hummed in the background. I stood on the brick entranceway, then I stepped onto the maroon-painted slab. It was in pieces, but I found a small bit and put it in my pocket.

As I stood there, the CAT disappeared, and I was standing in a room full of flowers, dried and fresh. Diana Krall was singing on the stereo. Women’s laughter was coming from the greenhouse. The sound of flowing water came from nearby fountains. Books, cards, colorful pottery, statuary, linens, candles, the smell of spring sprang full-blown in my mind. The sun on my face was warm, and I remembered its path and its grand finishes with sunsets on the other side of Sunderland Road. Then I turned around to leave, and I leaned down to dig some soil. It was black and stony, underneath where Moses (our dog) used to lie in the sun in the afternoons.

I never gave up the dream of re-opening Annie’s until that day. Every time I drove by, I thought, “I could do it again. I want to do it again.” Then, “Don’t be silly. It’s too late.” Still, the next time I passed by, the dream popped up again. The CAT put an end to it.

So, this is a farewell letter to thank all of you in Northampton and surrounding towns for your love and support all of the years that we had Annie’s. We have our pots, our poems, our water fountains, our dried wreaths, our T-shirts, our earrings and our memories now. It won’t happen again, but oh my, wasn’t it a wonderful time? Thank you, friends.

Annie Cheatham