Everything ends, and after eight years, so will this column
Everything ends. That is a definite. Regardless if you see something as good or bad, it eventually comes to an end. I guess it depends of how you look at it. A recent example is that the enjoyable days of summer have ended. Some lament its passing, especially if they enjoyed the heat it brought. Without that constant warmth though, flowers have entered a dormant stage. The flip side is there are those who enjoy cooler, even colder temperatures. Their medications cause the heat to torment them, so they welcome the change. For some it’s the end of their water skiing. For others, it’s the beginning of snow skiing. It’s all how you look at it.
Be it good, bad or indifferent, my writings for this newspaper reach their end at the close of this year. That will conclude eight years and over 350 columns. That number doesn’t seem possible when I think back to the beginning, when I picked up my pen. I originally set a goal of writing 5 columns for the gardeners of Union County. If I could think of 5 more subjects I thought I might make it to 10. Little did I know that I would see a subject everywhere I looked. And, I do mean everywhere. I certainly wasn’t thinking plants when we took my dad to the hospice house in Rock Hill. Looking out the window though, I noticed some very unusual landscaping. After some investigation both inside and outside, I wrote one of my most memorable columns. It allowed me to point out that there could be tremendous beauty in a place where people go to die.
In the beginning my idea was to write strictly about gardening. Later, when asked I always said I wrote about gardening and life. The “life” part is what caused me to stay excited about my subject matter. It often became about people that I met and their gardens. It was their questions and comments that often filled the pages. I wanted my writing to be informative, but never just a series of do’s and don’ts. I hope you saw that.
I sometimes referred to things as the “good, the bad, or the ugly”. Whether it was gardening or people those were the descriptive terms I found. They certainly applied to me, at least the last two anyway! I have tried to be transparent and tell you when I succeeded and when I failed. This thing we call life is full of both. I never had all the answers. I often have referred to parenting in the same way. With that endeavor we don’t know the questions, let alone the answers. Gardening, just like life, is a learning experience right up until the last chapter is written. I have made plenty of mistakes and never tried to hide them. I was speaking to one of our sons the other day about mistakes. I said “There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. Everyone does it. It is wrong though, to repeat mistakes”.
The best part of this eight- year experience has definitely been the interaction with readers. I have met some amazing and interesting people through my writings. Among that group are now some of my closest friends. Regardless, I have learned from all the people I have met. I learned there are those with green thumbs, as well as those with hearts of gold. Some gardened by a plethora of knowledge, others by sheer will and determination while facing adversity. From some I learned what to do. From others I learned what not to do. The people have definitely been the best part.
The people part of this endeavor continued almost everywhere I went. People have stopped me at church, restaurants and most every store to ask if “I was the Tom Walden that wrote the newspaper columns”. That question was followed by encouraging words and sometimes suggesting topics. As I stated the readers are the best part of this job.
I have found that gardeners are mostly happy, generous people. For as long as I can remember vegetable gardeners have tried to send part of their garden bounty home with me. When I was a kid they’d ask if my mother had fresh vegetables. Today, regardless of what they grow, gardeners have asked if I had a particular plant. If I didn’t they were quick to offer us one. We have a number of unique and different ornamentals around our home due to their generosity. Again, I’ll state that the gardeners I’ve known have been caring and sharing people. That was proven again and again by your generosity to us and others.
Anyway, this isn’t goodbye. You’ll still have me around for a few more weeks. Even after the end of the year I’ll be available by e-mail or phone. I’ll always be interested in what you have to say.
• Reach Tom Walden at firstname.lastname@example.org