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For Maryann, With Love

Aug 16 | Posted by: Rebecca Loebe |

I started hanging around in Austin in 2009, but I was mostly crashing with friends and subletting for the first year and a half or so. I didn't feel like I actually "lived" here until the May of 2011, when we moved into a two bedroom house in Clarksville on a property known to our friends as The Compound. 

It was a magical place. Maryann, the proprietor and curator, had bought six adjoining lots in 1980, fenced them off and created her own world inside. Every inch of land was planted and growing. Once you crossed through the fence it was like you were no longer in the city. Everything was lush and green and verdant. 

She grew lots of food and beautiful flowers. She built her house and a few adjoining apartments by hand, all salteo tile and exposed beams. Her laundry hung on a line and she put up lines for the tenants as well. She kept bees in boxes in the backyard and chickens in a coop out front.

Maryann was constantly building, using scavenged materials she kept in piles around the property. It seemed like she never stopped moving, working, improving, learning, tinkering... When I mentioned to her, offhandedly, that I was “kind of interested in gardening,” I woke up the next morning to see her outside my window, pulling up weeds from an overgrown plot that would become my first vegetable garden.

I gardened there for three seasons, and it brought me so much joy and comfort. In the midst of a hectic life where I sometimes feel uprooted and a little disconnected from home, it meant a lot to me to return from trips and see the growth that had occurred while I was gone. 

I began hosting semi-frequent songwriter dinner parties, and absolutely loved serving lettuce and kale that I had grown in that patch of dirt. It wasn’t until I moved out and tried to garden on my own that I realized that, of course, Maryann had been watering my little plot for me while I was on tour.

During the decades that she lived at the compound, she raised four beautiful daughters and created a solid community. Dozens of communities, actually. As she added to her homestead, people cycled through, often when it seemed they needed it most. During the time we lived there our neighbors were musicians, producers, photographers, massage therapists, travelers… 

Every Saturday morning she hosted a brunch for the residents and neighbors of the compound. I traveled a lot of weekends but tried to go whenever I was in town. During the warm months we would eat at a decades-old, faded wooden table in the center courtyard. I wish I had gone more.

The last time I saw Maryann I stopped by the compound for her advice on building garden boxes for my new house. She chewed on her lip and pondered, before she started listing materials that I would need to acquire. Before I had written them all down she was up, leading me out to the driveway, pulling the tarp off a pile of wood she had squirreled away, pulling out planks for me to inspect and consider.

I’m pretty sure word has circulated around Austin by now that Maryann passed away on Monday. I don’t know any details and I don’t think I want to. All I know is that she was at home, which is undoubtedly where she would have wanted to be.

It’s hard to say goodbye to such a bright light. I'm sending love today to her daughters and to all of my friends who were close to her. Most of all, I'm sending love to Maryann and my deepest gratitude to her for teaching me so much about what's possible in the world and for making Austin feel like home.

Here's a great article about her, and the impact she had on the community, in the Austin Statesman.

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MANAGEMENTRalph Jaccodine. rjaccodine@gmail.com (617.393.9800)

US CLUB & FESTIVAL BOOKING: Mary Granata. mary@granataagency.com (973.208.7291)

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