Native Son: Corsicana

Tweaking, tweaking…there’s always a better image or another detail to add. Geesh, I started this new program project four months ago, yet I’m right down to the wire. My eyes glance over to the clock on the wall…9:30. Nine-thirty?!?!? I’m supposed to be past Cleburne by now!

Running late, yet a three-acre roadside patch of Four-Point Primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala) forces me to pull over for quick visit. Nearby, a cute little Buffalo Gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima) tempts me to pick it up…but memories of a former road trip come to mind…holding my right hand out the driver’s side window in an attempt to avoid that putrid smell until I could find a place to wash it off. I don’t think buffalos smell that bad.

So my leisurely two-lane road trip has now turned into a hot-shot stress drive down the Interstate. I’m on my way to the Corsicana Women’s Club to present my brand new “Peace, Love and Milagros” program. An eclectic collection of quirky stories and heartfelt lessons, this program uses plants and gardens like a ladder to bring us to new perspectives on life. “Milagro” is Spanish for “miracle,” and while many people associate miracles only with huge, extraordinary events, I associate them with small, yet meaningful occurrences that happen fairly frequently and shape our perspectives. I think of fireflies…they are there all the time, but we only see them when we stop seeing everything else.

Four-Point Primrose

Four-Point Primrose

Four-Point Primrose

Four-Point Primrose


Buffalo Gourd

Buffalo Gourd

Buffalo Gourd

Buffalo Gourd


About the time I am blasting through Burleson, it occurs to me that, barring a major traffic back-up, I can make it on time. I can relax everything but my right foot—keep it on 70, big boy.

I pull into the Corsicana’s Kinsloe House right on time, and am swept up in the charm of the place right away. Built in 1937 and later gifted to the local women’s clubs for their use, the building sure seemed newer to me. I learn the original home burned in 1988 and was rebuilt by the same groups that it served. Overcoming adversity is one of the themes of my program…and these ladies have tales of their own to tell.

Time and space won’t allow me to share the whole program with you, but I can give you a snippet. Hope you like it.

Rose Garden Romance

Something magical was in the air that beautiful late spring morning back in 1988…something that made the ignoble task of emptying the trash barrels almost a pleasure. I looked around at the glory of the rose garden, probably the most famous section of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and wondered if life could get any better. The blossoms were heavy, birds were singing, squirrels were romping, and over there, coming up the Colonnade, was a beautiful old couple walking arm in arm.

They smiled warmly as they strolled, taking time to point out an especially beautiful blossom here and there. The gentleman, dapper in his tweed jacket, had gently taken a white rose in his hand and pulled it closer to the walk so his sweetheart could partake of the fragrance. They are really beautiful, I thought, as I found myself watching them with envy. So in love…

As they arose from the flower, the gentleman spotted me and called out, almost gruffly, “I’ll have you know, young man, that we were married right here in this very garden!” Half startled, I smiled dumbly and gave a weak wave.

About a minute later, it hit me. These folks were 80, maybe 85 years old…the Botanic Garden was established in 1933…WOW! These people were probably one of the first couples to get married here. My voice returned to me and I said eagerly, “That’s wonderful! When did you get married?”

The sweet, white-haired woman who had up to this moment remained silent, straightened her back, raised her chin proudly and answered, “Six weeks ago tomorrow!” With a spring in their step, they continued onward through the garden.

A few moments later, the cool air on my tongue reminded me to close my mouth.

And so I give thanks and a rose to the Corsicana Women’s Club, who hosted me with warmth, style, grace. May your milagros be many…



I need a road trip! I’d love to come out and speak to your group. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and I’ll go just about anywhere…no city too big; no town too small. Just e-mail me at and we’ll work something out.

Come see me at Chandor Gardens! Call 817-613-1700 or go to for details.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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