Native Son: July 16, 2020

Preface from Neil…
I got a call from my dear friend Steven Chamblee first thing this morning. He’d been up since 3, and figurative wads of paper were all over the floor around his keyboard as he tried to get his fingers flying on his always fabulous stories he writes for you here.

With chagrin, he said, “I’m just outta gas. Wanna wait ’til next week?”

I thought for a micro-moment. I knew you’ll be picketing outside my house tonight if I let that happen.

I told Steven we’d rather have him pick one of his favorites from years ago. He said, “Patti already did that.”

So here’s what she chose for us to enjoy all over again. I’m so glad that she did. It’s am amazing story. Beautifully written! I’m going to print it and send it to some friends who heard Steven speak at one of my Zoom meetings a couple of weeks ago.

Perfect. Problem well solved! (Thanks, Patti!)

The Significance of One

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” —Dalai Lama

A handful of Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata), related to Poinsettia. All photos from Steven Chamblee.

Caught a bad case of the blues this month, feeling awful small,
Seems like I don’t matter much these days, maybe not at all.
So I pressed my luck and got in the truck and drove down a country road,
Figured Mother Nature might be kind today, might help to lighten my load.
Snow on the mountain, eryngo, prickly pear, and sunflowers,
My thoughts soon drifted away from me, and so did the hours.
The grasses are now golden, the trees somehow still green,
The familiar sights of a late Texas summer; ones I’ve often seen.
Suddenly, there on the ground was a single small mound,
Haloed with a purple puff crown.
It was the only one for miles, and it brought me a smile.
How did it know I was feeling down?
This liatris, alone, made itself right at home,
In a rocky bar ditch, out in the hot sun.
Its beauty has caught me, its boldness has taught me
The true significance of one.
An hour later, I picked up a live oak acorn,
And beheld it in my hand.
Thought with time and soil and a little bit of rain,
It can produce a promised land.
This little seed, not yet unfurled,
Could make an actual difference, could make a better world.
Long after I’m gone, when my life is done,
This little seed will show indeed, the significance of one.

Prickly purple fruits of Eryngo. (Eryngium leavenworthii)
Texas Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii) laden with fruits called “tunas.”

One can indeed make a difference…
One kind word can heal a heart.
One hug can change a life.
One pill can cure or kill you.
One small step can begin a great journey.
One day was your first; one day will be your last.
One thank you note can make someone feel appreciated.
One moment can change the course of your life.
One teacher can inspire you forever.
One worm can spoil the apple.
One true friend is enough.
One child can make two parents.
One kiss can turn your world upside down.
One packet of sunflower seeds can make a gardener.
One seed can a forest birth; one match can return it all to the earth.
One “attaboy” can show you the difference between a boss and a leader.
One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch, but one wet mouse spoils the whole bowl of punch.
One homemade peach cobbler with ice cream can make the most crusty curmudgeon smile.

Continued Below

A single clump of Narrow-leaf Gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) brightens up a bar ditch…and Steven’s day.

One sunrise can make you realize it just might be the last one you ever see, so you might consider living the kind of life that’s worthy of the gift.

This little seed will show indeed, the significance of one.


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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