We were driving home from an errand last week, in an unfamiliar part of town, and suddenly found ourselves enveloped in a cloud of sweet wood smoke carrying the unmistakable aroma of pork roasting on the fire. It was an invitation we couldn't refuse.
We followed the smoke to a big outdoor grill and tiny carry-out, family-run rib joint. The folks were friendly and the portion choices were large, extra large, and "monster".
And there was a trap door in the floor.
It was a small, wooden door with a ring for a handle, right there next to the line of customers. I tried to ignore it, but it whispered to me. Hell, it was all I could do not to grab that handle and go on down the rabbit hole.
According to the owner, it just goes to a crawlspace. Disappointingly mundane.
On the way out, I snapped a photo of the quirky bottle sculpture sprouting by the front door. Having made something of a spectacle of myself already with the trap door thing, I didn't go back in to ask about the bottles.
A few days later, I Googled bottle sculptures, bottle art... and soon discovered bottle trees. Specifically, spirit bottle trees.
Bottle trees are an old tradition in the south, with roots in the Congo. Though mostly yard art these days, they were originally meant to keep evil spirits out of the house.
The spirits get caught in the bottles at night, and the morning sun finishes them off. Blue bottles are best, blue being a magically protective color, with green a close second. But any bottle will do.
So the bottle art may have a more mysterious side. Which makes me wonder where that trapdoor really goes.
Links for more:
*Bottle Trees on Squidoo: Great photos, lore and more
*Mojave Bottle Trees: A bottle tree forest and a magical Dale Chihuly installation
*Bottle Tree Bob: Got haints? Here's who you're gonna call.