July 20, 2016
I recently had the opportunity to participate in judging in the Beautiful Gardens Contest 2016 – one of the duties of the Mayor, apparently, but more important, one of the exquisite pleasures attached to the sometimes-humdrum routines of this office. To witness the pride and satisfaction of the gardeners as they display the results of their labours of love is only part of the pleasure. The rest of it is simply the basking in the beauties that still spring out of the Creator’s good earth. Color, texture, taste in abundant variety beyond my limited powers of description have transformed rather ordinary landscapes into park-like wonder.
Clearly, the owners, the gardeners, the landscape artists have the vision to utilize the surroundings, natural and contrived, to display the beauties of shrub, blossom, fruit, and vegetable. On one site the gardeners had turned at least three acres into a place I was reluctant to leave. On the top side a swampy drainage had been converted into a series of sparkling ponds, the kind you might expect to encounter in Sleepy Hollow, across two properties. The greens surrounding looked like a well-attended golf course. On the flat below a large vegetable garden without a visible weed promises food for the winter – and much to share. Ornamental trees, shrubs, and blossoms added color and character to the scene. Reluctantly we leave.
With happy anticipation we approach another delightful scene. Different – yet the same. Here the landscape artists have worked an abandoned set of corrals and an animal loading ramp into their garden. And, thanks to the generosity of the horses who once occupied the corrals, the soil has real punch. Strawberries, hascap, raspberries, peas, potatoes, flowering plants, and sparkling water all tended with care and attention to detail. Once again we are loath to move on preferring, rather, to stay and bask in the peace that envelops us.
Farther along we learn more about the spirit that moves some of us rural folk. Here the steep hillside has been transformed by truckloads of topsoil spread laboriously by back, legs, arms, and shovel. Magnificent results! A place of peace and reflection! Food for the stomach; food for the soul! What wonders the soil holds for those with the will and the mind and the energy to discover and uncover its treasures. In every place we visited the pride and satisfaction of the owners is palpable. We sense that life without the soil would not be real life.
Back in town we visit a number of businesses where the green thumb of humanity has joined with the powers of nature to bring color and vitality to our otherwise potentially drab lives. Yes, we are surrounded by green in the valleys and on the mountains. But to bring nature into the core of our existence is a privilege and duty of each one of us.
This is the reason that your new District Centre is coming more and more alive each day as our summer student crews, under the expert guidance of District staff are adding shape and color to our surroundings. An ancient wisdom from the Sanskrit comes to mind: If of your mortal goods you are bereft and from your meager store but two loaves to you are left, sell one and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed your soul.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor