One Brief Shining Moment

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Mike Willden, Chief of Staff for Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and leader of the Camelot in my career.

My rose garden … in fact our whole yard … awakened last spring with gusto. The lush foliage and thick sprays of colorful blossoms rivaled the best botanical parks I’ve toured. All this because the Northern Nevada desert experienced one of the warmest, wettest winters on record.

20180512_161821Most amazing was the effect on my Lady Banks roses. If these two climbers produce anything, it’s usually a smattering of tiny, yellow blooms. This year they were covered with dozens of romantic bouquets.

Why was this so astonishing?

Lady Banks is rated down to Zone 6, and I live in 7, but it fares best in Zones 9 and up where the minimum year-round temperature is higher. Mega-grower Monrovia calls it a “nearly tropical” plant because it’s so vulnerable to frost.

I didn’t know this when I innocently bought two at a big box store in 2009. A few years later, after a particularly hard winter, I turned for advice to a respected local nursery because the plants looked like goners. They questioned why I bought them in the first place.

We don’t even sell those. You know those pictures of English cottages covered in rose vines? Those are typically Lady Banks.

They recommended replacement with something more desert friendly.

Well, I tried, but they were stubborn buggers. The stumps wouldn’t budge. I finally gave up. A few weeks later I decided to give it another go but, lo and behold, new shoots had appeared. If you want to stay so badly, I said aloud, have at it.

Then came the warm, wet winter of 2017-18. I imagine those ladies stretching downward with their roots and skyward with their vines while singing a plant version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

The song playing in my own head was Camelot.

A law was made a distant moon ago here. July and August cannot be too hot. And there’s a legal limit to the snow here. In Camelot.

The experience brought to mind a joyful decade during my career when my colleagues and I confidently took bold risks and produced amazing outcomes. The power came from enlightened, supportive leadership. It was like the winter of 2017-18. Oh, what heights you can reach when the climate is perfect.

I have to wonder. Wouldn’t it be paradise if we lived in a world where support fell like warm rain in the tropics? Where leaders put themselves last and everyone else first? Where every home was a haven of love and encouragement? Where the streets were filled with kindness and acceptance? Where Camelot was never doomed and the sad reprise never sung?

For the sake of my Lady Banks, and all my other flowering bushes, I hope we have another warm, wet winter. After 21 years in this neck of the woods, I know it isn’t likely. Instead, I’ll be out there, watering during dry spells, trying to mimic Mother Nature and recreate this year’s one brief shining moment. Won’t you join me? In the garden. Or wherever Camelot beckons.

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