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
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.
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.