Just before press time, my daughter read Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and had to analyze each couplet then create a visual project on something that reminded her of the poem. She chose our beloved yellow lab Radar as her project topic.
If you’re like me and have sadly forgotten a lot of the literature covered in junior high, here’s the poem:
Nothing Gold Can Stay By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
My daughter's class interpreted the poem to mean that nothing lasts forever, which is why she chose to feature our dog Radar in her project. The unconditional love of a dog only lasts a few short years.
The poem reminded me of two great losses to horticulture in recent weeks.
Peter Scarff died Aug. 25 after a valiant, 9-month fight against glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Peter was the president of Scarff's Nursery, a fifth-generation family business based in Ohio. He was one of the first nursery owners I met as a new reporter to this industry almost 20 years ago. He was kind, patient and immensely helpful. His love of the industry and those in it was evident in everything he did. Peter’s wife Cindy has asked that if you wish to honor Peter, please consider a contribution to Clark County Young Life in Springfield, Ohio, an organization very dear to him.
In September, we lost Dr. Paul Thomas, a retired horticulture professor from the University of Georgia. Paul enjoyed more than 60 years in the horticulture industry. He had retired from UGA just a couple of weeks prior to his death. During the last few years at UGA, he was part of a groundbreaking study exploring water conservation technologies for nurseries and greenhouses. At the time of his retirement, he had accepted a position as an American Floral Endowment Academic Ambassador to the Vic and Margaret Ball Internship Program.
The one thing that struck me about Paul was his complete dedication to his students. If you followed him on Facebook, he had the occasional post about his travels or a shared photo (he also loved photography), but most of his feed was filled with information about current and former students.
When we’re affected by the loss of a friend, colleague or mentor, we often react by reaching out to others and vowing not to take things for granted. But that typically lasts a season. Let’s vow to consistently tell friends, coworkers, employees and family members how much they mean to us. Don’t wait for the death of someone to remind us of this. As Robert Frost observed, nothing gold can stay.