“Garden Writers Association of America Article”
© Eddie Rhoades
ORLANDO – We Laughed, We Cried
by Eddie Rhoades
I told someone at the recent GWAA symposium in Orlando, Florida that in my heart I still have a lingering sadness because of the attack on our country. This feeling occasionally will rise to the surface as when we all stood to sing God Bless America at the Awards Banquet. Usually I have a pretty good singing voice but not this time – too emotional.
It took a certain amount of courage to fly down to this event but I put those negative thoughts out of my mind as I was determined nothing would stop me. Once there, it was wonderful to see all the people I’ve met and become friends with over the years. These symposia are the highlights of my life and their memory gets me through another year of going to work in my little cubic hell, I mean cubicle.
Some people come to make contacts, for educational programs, or for business opportunities. Nothing’s wrong with that. I come for those same things but I also come to have fun. J.C. McGowan sets the tone for this fun atmosphere in her wild outfits. Last year she was dressed as a clown, this year she was Mother Nature. The thought had crossed my mind that the fun factor might not be the same as in times past since Gerry Hood was not going to be there. Still, I managed to have a ball (sorry Gerry). There was a full schedule of things to see and do, places to go and people to meet. It is entirely possible I had too much fun at the karaoke party when I was billing myself and my backup singers as “Big Ed and the Doo-Wop Singers.” Every annual symposium is closed with Karaoke Night and if you want to catch us in action, come to the one that will be held in Seattle in 2002.
I realize that as a garden writer I am bringing up the rear. Maybe that’s the way it should be – start at the bottom, pay your dues and work your way up. I will never quit trying to become a better gardener and garden writer and they can have my trowel when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. One speaker gave us the advice to become more passionate garden writers. It sounded like an interesting concept so maybe I will start writing from the bedroom.
Congratulations! This is it!
In his talk, Ken Druse said “Gardening is my salvation.” I agree and I believe it can be all things to all people. It has gotten me through hard times before – like when my daddy died. I watered my garden with my tears from this great loss. Now my sadness is for my country and its loss of innocence. I was so grateful to attend our event in Orlando that I took the advice on the back of our program and wrote every one of our sponsors a thank-you card.
And now it is time for gardening to work its magic again to help heal me and the rest of the country. What can we do individually? Try giving someone a single flower, a cutting or even a picture of a flower because flowers are the language of love. Throw in a smile for free. People should know that we are blessed to be simple gardeners and that as life goes on it becomes even more precious.
President Bush said we should get on with our lives and keep the economy going. With that advice I went out and bought stock in a yo-yo factory. That stock has done nothing ever since but go up and down and up and down.