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Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

The real global warming

By Shelley Grieshop

Lizzie Roberts polishes one of 35 gazing balls that surround her home along Lake. . .

Lizzie Roberts' favorite garden displays are perched like shiny bowling balls on thrones high above her resin statues and colorful perennials.
Some might say she's addicted to the mysterious legend behind the gazing balls. But Roberts shrugs off the notion. It's a simple love affair for garden flair that led her to surround her Celina home with nearly three dozen of them, she says.
"Ever since I was little I thought they were beautiful," she says with a slight Southern drawl that reveals her Kentucky roots.
Roberts, who is single and says she wants to keep it that way, retired from Mersmans in Celina nearly a decade ago. It was then she decided it was time to treat herself to the reflective beauties.
"It was time to start, time to get things I always wanted to have but didn't feel like I could before," she says.
She's gotten nearly every one of her 35 gazing balls from Hobby Lobby in Lima. They range in price from $25 to $35. Her first - a cherry red spectacle - graces her front flower bed near the highway where motorists can get a better glimpse. It, of course, is her favorite.
"Well, I've always liked the color red," she confesses.
The history of gazing balls goes back to the early 13th century when glass blowers in Venice, Italy, sought to create a spherical outdoor decoration. The trend didn't immediately catch on; the globes were pricey and a glass decoration didn't seem practical outside.
But when European royalty embraced the idea, the rest of the world soon followed. The fascination for gazing balls is still evident in every country in the world.
Often found near the front door, gazing balls or globes as they are often called, soon gained the legend of warding off evil, particularly witches. The story goes that a witch - obsessed with her own image - could not tear herself away from her reflection as she approached a home.
Roberts says she knows little about the myths but admits she's used the globe's reflective power to keep an eye on her neighborhood along Lakeland Boulevard.
"I used to stand out there and look into that green one and I could see cars going up and down the road from both directions," she says. "But then the glaze faded on it, and now I can't even see my own reflection."
Roberts' collection includes a wide variety of colors. Some are a bold solid hue, a few are marbled and others are an eye-catching mass of multi-colored glass chips.
"It's just amazing how they blow up that glass to look like this," she says, as the noon sun produces a glare atop each globe's crown.
They are delicate indeed and that's a fact she learned the hard way.
"They sound like a cannon when they hit the ground," she says with a grin.
She's received a lot of compliments on her treasured pieces. Motorists sometimes stop to ask her where she gets the 6- and 10-inch globes. A neighbor, who happens to be a physician, adores them and has even named a few, Roberts says. At one time he dotted his landscape with them, too, but they kept getting vandalized.
"I had a few taken awhile back but I called the cops and filed a report. I haven't had any real problems since," Roberts says.
After quietly taking a globe count of her garden, she smiles and says there's room for a new one this summer.
"I'd rather get one of these than more flowers. I don't have to mess with them and they always look good," she says.
And so far, there's been no witches at her door.
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