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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

Second Chances

Country Notebook, by Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson

One of my favorite colors is an orange/peach combination. Or, the color of the many beautiful sunsets we experience. I’ve always worn the orange hues well. As a light-complected redhead, the pinks and purples are used in my gardens, and less so worn around my face.

My garden is also full of yellows and oranges and deviations of those in nature. The poppy, the one called the California poppy, is up and thriving even though we are still having some late spring frosts. Within a short time, their yellow blooms will claim dominance in one of my shaded gardens and eventually spread seeds for next year’s pleasure. God knows I’ve tried to grow the bright red poppies, but with no success.

Instead, He gave me a gift of Flowering Quince, in quantity and quality with a profusion of orange-peach blossoms, usually just in time for Easter. I don’t see them as a flower for cutting but as a gorgeous bush.

This love affair with flowering quince began more than 35 years ago at our home in Overland Park. I planted a bush in the corner of my yard, not knowing anything about it other than I likely bought it on sale. Every year it tried in vain to become a big bush, but either it was mowed over or dug around by a dog or child. I could not come to terms with replacing it as I was reminded each spring of its determination to become a beautiful piece of nature. I think one year it had a few blossoms, but the dream was short-lived once again.

But I never failed to want what I had seen in other gardens. Yes, even in the plant world, jealousy rears its ugly head. I focused on trying once again and hit the jackpot. About ten years ago I was blessed with flowering quinces times twelve.

As my sister says, “Jeannie can smell a bargain a mile away.” It might be genetic, luck, or maybe even stupidity, but she is right. During the growing season, I often stop at Lowe’s to see what they have marked down and with my knowledge of perennials, I can usually predict correctly if the plant has a chance of survival. Notice, I said “perennial” as I’m not so fortunate with annuals.

As the story goes, I was at Lowe’s for the bargains and noticed a number of pots, gallon-size, of flowering quinces marked down to what appeared to be 75 cents. I knew this had to be a mistake as they were Proven Winners©, normally over thirty dollars for this size and expensive brand. I only took one to the check-out counter and asked the young woman to verify the real price. She said, “That’s what it says and that’s what I will charge you.” I tried reasoning with her as even I have some guilt when it comes to bargains, but she repeated it again. After this exchange back and forth about three times, I finally said, “You win, I am taking all twelve.” I always suspected the pricing gun had left off the first number, like 19, before the 75.

Linn County, at least at my farm, has plenty of rock to dig through, but I dug and dug in fear that someone would discover my deception. God must have agreed with my actions as today along my driveway, I know spring has arrived with my flowering quinces making their beautiful debut.

So, the moral of the story is “don’t give up!” This applies to gardeners, farmers, parents, flowering quinces, or any other living creature. Maybe that’s why I love to shop in thrift stores. I’ve found many bargain items just waiting for a second chance. As I age, I realize that I’m not for sale, but if so, my price tag might say 75 cents. Then with each new sunrise, I get a second chance. Maybe I could be the inspiration for another person. And, we can’t put a price on that deal, even if I am a bargain!

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is an author who lives outside of Centerville and is a regular contributor to the Journal. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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