Quirk is not monolithic. Not cookie cutter. Not one-size-fits-all. It comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and with varying degrees of production values.
Mark Haggitt says that his Peralta Avenue front yard and sidewalk strip are an expression of his psyche, manifestations of a psychological exploration. He has lived in this home since 1989. His son Ian, now a freshman at Berkeley High, chose the colors; he started with black and gravitated to red/deep-pink-orange-yellow.
Haggitt says that the art in the yard is connected to natural forces, as is almost everything in his life. By this I assume that he means the four kinds of invisible pressure – strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetic, and gravitational forces, naturally produced and studied in physics. I am not sure that this is what he means, just guessing. I didn’t ask.
Essential facts about Mark:
He was born a citizen of the United Kingdom in Canada.
When he was a boy, his parents moved to Clearwater, Florida.
He became a surfer. He is still a surfer.
He walks dogs.
He travels by bicycle. Everywhere. When he worked as a sales rep for KMS California selling haircare products from San Francisco to Walnut Creek, he traveled by bicycle. He doesn’t own a car.
He is outgoing. When we talked with him in front of his house, an almost-stream of neighbors walked by and greeted him.
He is a self-descibed packrat. He is a collagist. He says he works with detritus. I admire anyone who uses that word.
His porch reflects the packrat/collagist/detritus:
His art defies pigeon-holing or even description. All of it has personal meaning to Haggitt. Most of it is connected to natural forces.
This is long, clear cedar. His friend Malcolm gave him the scraps from a obob he was doing.
The two pieces of hanging bark are a memorial to a friend.
Haggitt is into all things Celtic. There are approximately 1,300 stone circles in the British Isles. They have no equivalent elsewhere in Europe. Stonehenge is the best known. Avebury is the largest, then the Stanton Drew stone circles, then the Ring of Brodgar. There is one stone circle on Peralta, at least that I know of.
Haggitt’s quirk is DIY. I drive by his house from time to time, veering off Solano just to see where his explorations have taken him. His neighbors clearly are fond of Haggitt and his enthusiastic kindness. My advice to him: keep exploring.
This is a good thing. Not that Martha would necessarily approve. But – Quirky Berkeley approves.
As we were starting to say goodbye to Mark, a woman walked up to the house. She was Ann Mills Perkins. Perkins was born in a hospital in San Francisco in 1934 and brought back to this house, where her parents lived, by ferry. She graduated from Berkeley High School in 1952. In 1964 she and her husband moved to Redding, where she has lived since. She had not seen the house, which her parents sold in 1948, since leaving the Bay Area. She and Mark were settling in for a good long talk.
My friend smiled when he saw these photos. “I know that dude. Watched him surf many a time. Does that disqualify me from passing judgment on this post?”
I thought it over, and as I pondered my friend returned to the photos of the stone circle. I decided about the conflict of interest question – No it doesn’t.
In that case, he passed judgment:
Hey! That is my Aunt! This is such a fun story! Small worlds made big!