Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Coach

 Happy the Man  

Happy the man, and happy he alone, 

He who can call today his own: 

He who, secure within, can say, 

Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today. 

Be fair or foul or rain or shine 

The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. 

Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, 

But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour. 

 

John Dryden 

 


I did not know Coach Dooley well. Many many people did. When I was first in school at UGA, I used to say that he was the most powerful man in Georgia, and I don't think many disagreed. I also used to say that he was so powerful because football ruled the world. There, I was wrong. I found out much later that Vince Dooley was not prominent because of football. Football in the Dawg nation became preeminent because of the Coach.

I can't go into any detail about his career in football. I really didn't much care. Others can cover that:

“Coach Dooley is truly one of the seminal figures in the history of the Southeastern Conference,” 


“By far, Vince Dooley was the classiest and smartest coach I’ve ever met.”


"Sitting in the chair Coach Dooley inhabited is surreal to me, I just pinch myself. He embodied what Georgia athletics is all about and motivates me to be the best I can be. You hear the stories of his time as AD, and knowing he went through them all, it’s inspiring. I feel like he was my Coach, too. When he would tell me he was proud of me or that I had done a good job, it was the greatest compliment I could get.”


" People associated Vince Dooley with class, and that was his trademark and how the University of Georgia carried itself."





It was only after his coaching days were done that I had the chance to meet the man behind the myth, while walking in his garden talking plants. I probably didn't talk much at all. I was tagging along with some horticultural legends in their own rights.
But I listened carefully, and began to see the intelligence, knowledge, enthusiasm and grace of this true southern gentleman.


Over the next years I visited his magnificent garden many times. I heard him speak on gardens. I went on tours with some of UGA's horticultural greats to gardens of other greats . Vince often came along. He visited my nursery on numerous occasions, with special focus on Japanese maples. He loved talking about all the unusual plants we grew. I once gave him a dwarf Japanese Elm- Ulmus parvifolia 'Seiju' because he liked it so much. Every time I saw him thereafter, he made sure to tell me how his "Seiju' was doing, and how much he appreciated the gift.


In addition to his excellence in the fields of leadership, management, and sports, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of history, with special emphasis on the South. I was usually there for the plant talk, but Vince had so much more to share. I was charmed by his story telling, and by his often self-effacing stories about his life. For instance, his front garden, on either side of a small creek, contained many different species of weeping plants. Traditionally this design might reflect the "movement" of the creek water in the pendulous nature of the trees. But no, not in this case. This was his "Weeping" garden because it gave him a place to go after a football loss.


I've been looking back thru pictures remembering some of those times. I have also touched base with gardening buddies that knew him. Looking back and touching base has been a great comfort, and a welcome ballast. I have missed my horticultural days, and over the past year I have found myself back in the mood to propagate plants, share gardening ideas, even get my plant dealers license again. In order to make the move from the nursery to retirement, I had to step away from all that I loved so much. But this experience has reminded me that it's ok; in fact it is good to reconnect.




I am moving on from sad, and re-enjoying the things I love that I shared with the Coach and others. Surely he was one who could "call today his own".
I am also spending more time with my camera to re-enjoy the fabulous features of plants. I took many a plant picture in the past, and maybe now I can round that out a bit with beach, water and sky pictures. Those joys, after all, are mine.








Monday, July 18, 2022

New Eyes

 

 

   The world is full of magic things, 

waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

W B Yeats



I am not sure, but I am wondering if I am I'm getting old. Don't laugh; I'm serious.

 Maybe it's the simple accumulation of years. Maybe it's the Covid fog that has blanketed our typical daily lives with the confusing and the unexpected. Maybe it's the new myopic focus that comes along with the occasional ache or pain. 

 I no longer feel the urge to travel. In fact, I am perfectly content to stay at home. But this is a big change for me. Sure, I can point to a myriad of excuses- too expensive to fly, drive, stay; Covid worries; schedule cancellations, delays, crowds, crazy travelers. Oh, and who will keep the cat?

But these irritants never bothered me before.  

We've ended up living in the place I consider my top vacation destination. I am retired from a job I loved, so I am able to putter around doing the job I loved on a very personal scale while having none of the hard, hot, cold, frustrating, exhausting, confining tasks that go along with running an actual business. My adorable husband has almost retired, too. At any rate, we do have much more "quality time" together.

I spend a lot of time these days enjoying the sky, the water, the sky on the water. I relish every sunset or moonrise. I love the way the colors change from minute to minute, and the way those colors play on the water and the land beyond.

I can spend time watching my plants grow, especially when I have managed to select another one the deer don't like. Between the salt air and those deer, growing plants here can be quite a challenge. But I have enjoyed both the mental and physical trials, and I am ending up with quite a lovely garden.

 


I've also lucked into such a lovely group of friends here. And yes, I do have many buddies left behind from other homes and work that I miss.

 

But when we stepped into this paradise of raw, forthright landscape, we found that same unpretentious character in the individuals it attracted. Once again, I feel I am right where I belong, with no need to look outside of what is right in front of me.    



Clearly I craved the scenery, the sensations, the scraping away of brain plaque buildup from the stress and strains of work. There is no doubt, as I reread these descriptions, that I needed that total immersion into the environment of "different" to get back my perspective of "normal".




But these days, every day is a new day. I can do pretty much anything I want to do from attending the minute details to the broadest of imaginings. And most important of all, I can see the world anew thru the eyes of my grandchildren. 

There is no more hopeful, broadening, regenerating perspective than this.



Now, I am finally feeling like I am home, instead of running away from home. 
These old eyes are finally seeing what's been right in front of me the whole time. 
                                          And I am just in time to embrace the magic.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,

 but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust




We must not cease from exploration. 

And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began 

and to know the place for the first time. 

T S Elliot

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Birds, Bees and Bats: Some Observations of Spring

 

“Spring” 

              by William Shakespeare

 

When daisies pied and violets blue
   And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
   Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
                         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
   And merry larks are plowmen’s clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
   And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
                         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

It is a cold drizzly day today, but there's no doubt that spring is emerging. I just took a walk down the street and heard the call of Osprey for the first time since last fall. Soon the returning pair will be nesting again on the top of the next door neighbor's boat lift, carrying sticks and brush and whole branches back and forth in front of our windows. Their calls will be joined by those of seagulls on the boat house roof of the neighbor on the other side. Unlike the graceful Osprey, seagulls gather in large raucous groups for mating, with earsplitting catcalls followed by acrobatic intercourse with the chosen one. The lewd sounds are just beginning today. They will get longer and louder by the day.


So, too, are the bees already working hard on this year's stores. Before the blast of spring colors, there are many sweet and subtle harbingers of the season. 


I love the early flowers- the daffodil and crocus that catch the morning dew as they raise their heads to the sunlight; the lithe catkins that swing and sway in the breeze. Against the grays and browns of winter, they are a gentle reminder to pay attention. Something is just about the happen.


After the long COVID two year winter, I have finally gotten back into propagation. I love rooting cuttings and I have been quite successful with some of the Salvias, Hypericums, Cestrum, Buddleia, Loropetalum. The deer don't eat those. Last fall I was determined to make more Amsonia hubrictii,



which seems to survive deer and salt water. That plant needs to be divided, or grown from seed. So I picked and cleaned seed for weeks, hoping to figure out the key to reliable germination. I tried cold damp in refrigerator, cold dry in refrigerator, sown outside, sown and kept in a plastic carton outside. Bonanza!! This year it all worked! I have thousands of seedlings now, and my work cut out for me.


Along those same propagation lines, as spring approaches, I fondly remember my long days at the nursery. I spent many hours transplanting rooted cuttings into cell packs, cell packs into quart pots, quart pots into gallons, gallons into 3 gallon. It wasn't rocket science, but it developed a certain rhythm and efficiency of motion. Almost as an echo of that tempo, I used to love to listen to baseball. The game has a deliberate pace; a calm approach; a cadence of the play by play. I've tuned into Bulldogs Baseball a few days this month when I've been outside, and it has been like a reunion with old friends- the walk up music, the nicknames, the corny announcer jokes, the crack of the bat, the call "over the wall".

Today the classic season's tug of war will play out. It is gray, windy, 70 degrees. After the coming rain and thunderstorms, it will be clear, windy and 26 degrees; one of those "winters" the southeast is famous for.

Spring Breeze

Chilly breeze
Pleased memories
Cute spring

 






Thursday, September 9, 2021

Let It Be


Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

MEGAN DEVINE 


I've been trying to spend more time and energy writing. After months of this, I am now beginning to see that the algebraic formula for this is x < or =  0, when x is defined as creative writing.

I have excelled at all sorts of other creativities. I have cooked up some genuinely excellent meals, and shared them enthusiastically with friends. I've done some fun and satisfying watercolors recently

and have lots more in mind.  Those paintings are often inspired by the natural world around me, and of the many many photographs I have taken of that world.

I'll stay up late, wake up early, lean out windows, hike high, kneel low to get the shot I want. 
 


Sometimes, it turns out to be just right. All the while, I continue mulling over and not getting anywhere with my writing

 
I have also been gardening up a storm, and have gotten back into propagating in a big way. As always, the work is hard and hot, but the rewards are both instant and ongoing.                                           
There's plenty of really good time to ponder ideas, too. But it seems that being sweaty and dirty and outside most of the day has also provided me with the excuse to not be writing....again.

When writing my blogs, I like to find little pieces of everyday life that strike me as worthy of a few words. I can usually put together a piece without too much trouble, then edit and edit and edit once I have the main pieces of the puzzle in place. I have had just such an idea from real life in my head for over ten years, but I wanted to write it as a longer piece "when I had time". I hoped that as I worked on it, I would figure out how to maneuver the pieces into a picture that made sense. But I am now bound to say, I am stuck.

 You see, the story is a series of facts that send the plot very clearly into one direction- all generous, warm, kind, nourishing. Then out of nowhere, without a hint, absent any clue, it crashes into a crushingly abrupt and sad end. I've spent hours, days, weeks researching the main topics- Catholicism, the mortuary business, depression, family loyalties, care giving, retirement. I've talked to others who know the story in case they can turn over a few rocks hiding something. I can't find that "Aha" moment that explains it all.

I like things that make sense. I have taken the facts and turned them inside out to look for connections. I have approached them as if the end were the beginning. I've even considered whether I could make this a sci-fi story, with everything turning out of bounds and unnatural. Could I invent all sorts of psychological details to cram in that could make the bare bones flesh out correctly; could I change the main character to fit the outcome? None of these options worked. I need the plot, the character, the setting to pave the way to the end. But it was the end, after all, I could not reconcile.

 I suppose I can say that I have learned something about telling a story, even as it remains untold. I have explored exercises that one might employ in such a composition. I've done the research, I've made outlines, I've manipulated the various parts of the story, written brief sketches. Now I have to do the hardest part- I have to acknowledge that this is a real life story I can't change. Every day I struggle with trying to make it different is a day I can't mourn and move on. So, here I am, back on the blog, conceding my loss and liberating my imagination. If all goes well, I can start soon on my short story idea exercises with a little more abandon, and with a little less load.


Acceptance

When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds, at least must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
 Into the future. Let what will be, be.' 


ROBERT FROST