by Henry Lane Hull
To some, M2 might identify a new form of mathematical equation, a previously unknown co-efficient that presently defines a geometrical status quo, or it could be the name of a jazzy sport automobile, or a reference to a department of British Intelligence, a la James Bond.
Indeed, these possibilities might exist, but more positively the acronym, as coined by my Good Wife when she first came to the Northern Neck, stands for our neighbor, Mary Margaret Clegg.
Mary is the daughter of the late Irene and Elton Clegg, about whom I have written previously in this space, a beloved and widely renowned couple who were the proprietors of Clegg’s Restaurant in Wicomico Church from 1958 to 1978. Their food was legendary, with the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening waiting period for a table often being one to two hours. The meals were well worth the wait.
Mary, one of the Cleggs’ five children, grew up in the business, observing and absorbing all of her parents’ multifarious talents. After high school Mary went to Richmond to matriculate at the late Smithdeal-Massey Business College. After finishing her studies and returning home, she found employment in the computer operation at The Tides Inn, but after experiencing problems from the repetitive use of her arm, she left the Inn to pursue a career more in tune with her fondness for the outdoors.
To say Mary has an affinity for nature is an understated truism. Whether speaking of the yard and grass business she and her son, John, operate, or her crabbing and oystering activities, or her gardening endeavors that produce what would be award-winning vegetables should she choose to offer them competitively, Mary excels in all that she undertakes.
In that regard, she is especially particular when caring for lawns. She virtually manicures each blade of grass to achieve the ideal cut. When she finishes, the sweep of greenery is worthy of a book on horticulture. Whether riding her tractor, weed-eating or merely giving the lawns in her care a “pat on the turf,” she finds pleasure in working for the end result, a combined aesthetic unity, formed by the symbiotic relationship of nature and its human product working together.
Along with all of her work, Mary combines an ever-present concern for helping others, particularly those in need. Each month she and John work with pastor Donna Blythe of Wicomico United Methodist Church in distributing donated food to those who qualify to be food bank recipients. Donna has spearheaded that effort for many years, to the benefit by now of hundreds of individuals who are able to receive quality, nutritious food, which is critically important in the winter months when gardens lay fallow in the cold and employment opportunities are scant.
The Wicomico food bank has become a social institution thanks to Donna and her associates, all of whom enjoy expressing their Christian belief by sharing the donated abundance with those in need. Mary and John are mainstays in that effort. Although it is only a monthly undertaking, the food bank carries on the tradition of Clegg’s Restaurant, namely, drawing people to the village for culinary purposes.
Tomorrow is Mary’s birthday and although she is becoming a septuagenarian, she still has not a strand of gray hair and regularly manifests the energy level of a teenager. Across the decades I have known her, she has remained immutable, always the same, whether in appearance or in her concern for helping folks in any measure available to her. In the beginning she had wonderful parents and she learned from their example and built on what they gave her.
Happy Birthday, M2! “Ad multos annos!”