Top Five Great Little Moments — In the Southern Living Garden This Month

So I’m out there in the developing Southern Living Garden, diggin’ holes and pluggin’ shrubs with a first-time volunteer named Chance. As one of my regular volunteers, Joyce, is nearing the scene, Chance says, “That woman…I can’t remember her name, but she had all of my children.” I froze, shovel in hand. My brain boiled with the potential horrors of the next 60 seconds…

Apparently, my mind is on a permanent detour down the access road…it never occurred to me that Joyce is a retired schoolteacher.


Reveling in what was undoubtedly one of the last chilly mornings until November, I was hunched over, about to wrestle a small boulder into its final position when the sun reflected a little green shimmer between my hands. Apparently, the little fellow was still in a torpid stupor, as he just sat there while I de-gloved and pulled out the phone for a little photo session. I even managed to gently cup him in my open hand and was about to take an instant classic selfie when…

And just like that, the magic was gone.


Longview Arboretum board member Keith Griffin is an easy-going, unflappable guy with a serious business side…which is what we all want in a CPA. Imagine my surprise when he suddenly stopped by the Southern Living Garden toting a turtle. Apparently, the turtle was wandering by well-trafficked Cotton Street and Keith thought it might be more comfortable lounging in the Arboretum’s pond than dodging truck tires. I think he was right.

Nice to see a grown man turn into a ten year-old boy again, if only for a moment.


I was just out there watering some hydrangeas, minding my own business, when all hell broke loose. In all my sixty years, I’ve never seen such an insignificant skirmish escalate into an all-out battle. Those bad boys went at it full throttle; threatening, wrestling, even biting. Biting hard! I didn’t have the nerve to try to break it up, but figured we might need some hard evidence if law enforcement got involved, so I took some pictures. I know they’re a little fuzzy, but there was a lot going on. (Still better than any of those Sasquatch photos…)

I don’t know how it ended; these little anoles fell off the Battle Boulder and continued elsewhere.


My second twelve-hour workday this week and I’m pooped. I go down to rest for a moment on my perch rock. I set this boulder next to a tree, so I could have a back rest. The stone has a natural, shallow scoop out of the top that makes it comfy to sit upon as I gaze across this new little Southern Living Garden. It’s actually coming together quite nicely. Music floats on the gentle breeze, courtesy of the Longview String Quartet. They’ve opted for some pop music tonight, which I much prefer over classical. John, Paul, and George would be proud. Ringo; maybe not so much.

My mind begins to wander, like it always does, to the laundry list of things undone…problems to solve, pipes to fix, plants that need to find their perfect home. And just a sudden as a cold-front breeze, the laundry list drops from my mind. Is that…? Am I hearing that right? Is the Longview String Quartet playing Stairway to Heaven? They are. And they are owning it. It sounds so good that it’s nothing less than amazing. The audacity!

And then it hits me…”audacity.” That word can be a great compliment…or a condescending insult, depending upon how it’s used. (“…cause you know sometimes words have two meanings…”) Audacity can mean “a willingness to take bold risks” or “rude or disrespectful behavior.” Perhaps the chosen meaning says more about the user of the word than the person being described.

There on my perch rock, I look across this fledgling Southern Living Garden…which began with a budget of $0. The Longview String Quartet plays on, having taken a bold risk by covering such a powerful and iconic song. Some purists might say they are guilty of audacity. So would I….so would I.


This article is dedicated to Izzy Bloomberg, who audaciously made this world a better place for 88 years. Pictured here with his son, Michael.


Just so you know…the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Summer hours are 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday; Sunday Noon-5pm. Come out and see us! Check out the progress on the Southern Living Garden and other areas of the Arboretum. Please observe social distancing at this time. And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-281-2181

I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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