The love story behind a West Shore man who ‘donutized’ his home
Published Thursday, March 7, 2019 12:25PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, March 7, 2019 12:50PM PST
LANGFORD – One of the mailboxes is not like the other. They are lined up side-by-side — three basic black ones and one painted pink. The pink mailbox also has a metal owl perched on top of it.
“It’s nice,” says Peter, who smiles while walking past it. “I think this person has a little whimsy!”
If you wonder why somebody would transform their mailbox with whimsy, and then you start wandering down the lane in search of a story, you’ll find one of the houses is not like the others. You’ll see a yard filled with countless bright characters smiling back at you, and a sign that says, ‘Pepper and Pearly’s Grove.’
“Hi!” says a voice from the other side of the fence. “I’m Joanne, the neighbour.” An orange cat named Finnegan is sitting next to her feet.
“What a house!” I say. “It’s amazing!”
Joanne agrees and says it’s great to live next to because there’s always something wonderful to look at. She says the house was built more than a century ago, when the property was an apple orchard on a sheep farm. Now it’s the home of Betty Boo, the cat she points out, who is watching us through a window in the house, and her person, Donnie.
“Donnie, a.k.a. Donut!” she laughs.
A while later, Donnie returns home and reveals that he got his “Donut” nickname from his niece. He says she uses it as a verb anytime he’s going to improve something. “Oh, Don’s going to ‘donutize’ the car!” he says, as an example.
I look around at the eclectic things that Donnie has decorated his house and yard with. “Is that what’s happened here? It’s been ‘donutized?’” I wonder.
“It kinda has,” he smiles.
Donnie says he ‘donutized’ his yard to keep Pepper and Pearly’s Grove looking alive despite winter’s cold and summer’s drought.
When we look inside his house, he points to foliage growing near the dining room window. “I don’t water that plant.” When I wonder why, he says it’s English Ivy growing from outside the house. “It grows through that crack [in the window frame],” he laughs. “I don’t dare trim it.
Donnie's ‘donutized’ the inside of his house too, with the things that bring him joy. The pictures range from Elvis to NASCAR. The photographs feature family.
The most meaningful thing of all is displayed on a table: a small notepad, turned to a specific page. “I left notes for my wife every day,” he says. “I left this last one.”
It’s the last note he left for his wife Pearl before she died from cancer after 33 years together. It says that he and the cat loved her that day and always. It’s signed with a smiley face and a paw print.
He reaches up to a plastic bag containing dried flowers. “These are the last roses we bought each other,” he gently touches them. “She was my soulmate.”
Donnie says he was going to sprinkle the roses outside, but decided instead to name the ‘donutized’ yard after his Pearly and their cat Pepper. He created a year-round happy place. “So you feel good around it,” he says.
Which, no doubt, Pearly would have wanted — to have her Donnie Donut not feel empty in the middle, but be surrounded by ‘Home, sweet home.’