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Posted: April 27, 2011 8:18 a.m.

Giddens: An ode to Oxford

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Our cottage in Oxford is once again a woodsy retreat, lush with fresh greenery and new growth.

It's a pleasure to be treasured in the evening after work. We can open the 15 windows in the solarium at night and enjoy the serenade of crickets and frogs.

And there's much for our granddog Sophie to explore, bugs to chase in the ivy, chipmunks taunting her from under the deck and exotic aromas to decipher along the back fence.

A block away, the trail almost overwhelms Sophie with sensory overload. Most mornings there are deer about. The huskie in our mutt comes out as she pulls mightily on the leash trying to give pursuit to the deer as they cross the path ahead of us. One doe that we've watched grow from a fawn over the months seems almost tame, pausing some yards up the hill from Sophie and me and staring at us as we in turn regard her.

Oxford is one of the prettiest places we've had the pleasure to call home. It ranks up there with Rome and Athens, two of Georgia's loveliest cities, and its expansive greenspace evokes our "Green Acres" phase when Donna and I moved into a Depression-era farmhouse in the middle of a soybean field in Madison County.

There was no air conditioner there, and in summer we slept on the screened-in porch. We'd wake to find deer in the yard, and one morning a wandering cow was munching on the grass and staring at us.

In Rome we lived in a home on the side of a mountain that overlooked the city. Our bedroom was on the second floor with a view through the hardwood trees that made it feel as if we lived in a tree house.

We've always lived on shaded lots. I have a hard time imagining what it must be like living in one of those thrown-up subdivisions where the developer clear-cut the trees and filled the land with bland houses on crowded lots.

Oxford has apparently always been all about its trees and being a special kind of place.

I'm reading a book, "The Blessed Town," a memoir by Polly Stone Buck about Oxford as it was at the turn of the previous century.
It's an enjoyable read, a great insight into life as my grandparents knew it.

The city was protecting its trees back then, too, with a tree board and rules protecting its oaks from wayward axes.

I'm grateful for their foresight, and for the work of those who followed in preserving and protecting the integrity of the village.

There were a few general stores that are now gone, but much of old Oxford seems the same. It's easy on our early morning strolls to imagine what the town looked like when its link to the outside world was a yellow rail car towed by mules that ambled along its track to the depot in Covington.

The new blends well with the old along Wesley Street and throughout the old village, and onto the quad at Oxford College.

In the evening there's a soft glow from the streetlights under its trees. Messages are chalked onto the sidewalks there and the Seney Hall clock sounds the half-hour as it must have done for long decades.

As Polly Stone Buck noted in her book, Oxford was "a place set apart," a center of faith and education.

It's still a place apart, a small corner of the world that celebrates its harmonious blend of the modern, the historic and nature.

It's a warm, intimate community with a timeless appeal.

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at tgiddens@covnews.com.

 

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