Beryl Kooman has come to accept the urban sprawl that now envelops her Meriden home — it's the weeds she's worried about.
Admittedly, Kooman's flowerbeds have seen better days but at age 75 she's not ready to let intruders take over her backyard the way traffic and fast-food chains have overwhelmed the rest of her landscape.
"Right now I'm cuttin'," she said. "There's something out there I call creepy crawler. I think it's wild bittersweet."
Kooman has lived in the pink clapboard home at 749 East Main St. since 1962, when she left behind a four-story downtown apartment to move out into what then was the country.
"It was a pasture. It had cows and horses. There was no Burger King, no McDonald's, no nothing," she said, surprisingly void of nostalgia.
While businesses bought up the surrounding land, Kooman never received an offer for her home. Yet, despite the sirens that are heard as often as a Robin's whistle the property remains an oasis along one of the city's busiest thoroughfares.
"I tune it out, what else can you do," she said.
There is little grass to be mown on the property, save for a few paths around Kooman's flowerbeds and a small frontyard. The backyard is filled with perennial flowers including field daisies, buttercups, tiger lilies, peonies, clematis and delosperma. Dahlias are her personal favorite.
"I've dabbled in everything over the years," she says standing next to a pear tree, the last of four that once stood on the property. There are also mature blueberry bushes, rhubarb and a Concord grape vine.
There was a time when as many as 300 tomato plants were staked on the property, she says, but these days a bout with asthma and shrinking real estate have forced Kooman to focus almost entirely on tending to her flowers.
"I like to look out the window and enjoy 'em out there. My cats seem to have a penchant for knocking over the vases or eating them," she said.