A piece of the earth in a community garden to call my own! I was so excited. I thanked Maura and my mind filled with thoughts of how nice it was to be given the opportunity to join a community garden. I thought about what I'd do with my 20 by 2 foot strip of earth. And, I took more pictures. Then, I hopped on my bike and rode off.
As you know, my passion is travel. It opens the mind. It forces you to think beyond the normal bounds of everyday life. Travel opens up all the senses: you smell different smells. You meet different people. You begin to understand different cultures. You have to think about geography, location, routes. It's a thrill. And, shortly after finding McRorie Garden, I was called away to a different place. I was there for a couple of weeks. And, the phone rang. "Hello, this is Mike", I said. "Mike, this is Maura from the McRorie Community Garden. How are you?", a voice answered. "Maura!", I exclaimed. Here was my garden benefactor. "Mike, I was wondering...are you still interested in planting in the garden?", she asked. "Of course. I want to thank you so much!", I answered. "Well, I was wondering. Because someone else was interested in planting at the garden. So, if you're still interested, I'll tell him I'll get back with him. But, if not, there's a waiting list and please let me know what you want to do.", Maura said. My mind raced. I realized that I had left Gainesville right after finding the McRorie Community Garden and hadn't done anything with my patch in two weeks. "Maura, I love my patch and am so excited about planting. Thanks for asking.", I said.
I thought about what I wanted to plant. Since my patch was next to a fence, climbing plants would be perfect. I decided to plant tomatoes and beans. I planned. I imagined getting some tools from the millhouse that stood tall in the garden and clearing the weeds from my patch. I envisioned the rich earth that would be exposed once the weeds were cleared. I asked myself where I'd get the plants. I remembered the several farmer's markets we have here in Gainesville and how there are sprouts for sale. Then, I came home.
First chance I had, I hopped on my Dawes Galaxy and rode. I've had that bike since college. Cycling is my favorite pastime. The Dawes came into my life in a funny way. I was a student in a huge university and living in a boarding house across from campus. The house was a rambling, expanded wooden house with seven rooms. My next door neighbor, Justin, was a different sort of guy. He was in lean, athletic shape. He was quite slim, and always seemed energized. One day, he shaved his head. I asked him, "Justin, what's up? Why did you shave your head?" He answered, "I shave my hair once a year or so. It gives new hair a chance to grow and I feel fresh." I thought about that. He said, "I also fast once in a while. It cleanses my body. I like how fasting occasionally washes away toxins. I feel great afterwards." Again, I thought about what he said. Our house had a little courtyard in the back and I'd observe Justin doing Tai Chi in the mornings. He'd take off on his yellow bike and come back in the evening after classes and eat fresh veggies and pasta that looked so good.
I was always a hobbiest with many interests. From very early on, I loved electronics. I loved what at first appeared to be a mysterious tangle of wires and components that produced more than the sum of its parts. Learning about electronics opened up the world of mathematics for me at a very early age. Ohm's Law was my first electronic concept. Voltage equals current multiplied by resistance. So, when I was just a youngster and well ahead of my class, I had to learn some Algebra to understand how to calculate Ohm's Law. I also learned that a Law meant something was proven and you didn't have to resolve it time after time. But, this Algebra was hard for me. I discovered Schaum's Outlines. Books with hundreds of problems to practice with, complete with solutions. I spent hours and hours learning the 7 Algebraic postulates. After a while, I learned things like dividing fractions required multiplying by the inverse reciprocal. And, my goal was to pass the Federal Communications Commission Novice Amateur Radio exam. I failed it the first time I took it. Those problems involving Ohm's Law got me! And, the second time, I got nervous and failed it again. But, months and hundreds of problems from my tattered Schaum's Outline later, I took the test for the third time. And, I passed. To this day, I recall getting my Novice license as one of my greatest achievements.
I also love geology. Rocks and minerals fascinate me. The symmetry is beautiful The colors are magnificent. The age of these beauties is awe inspiring. Patterns emerge and the elements become identifiable. I discovered the Periodic Table of the Elements. Algebra crept back into my life. I learned about atoms, molecules, elements, and what composed these beautiful rocks I'd find in the bayou near my home in Texas. I was most fascinated with fossils. I can remember discovering my first brachiopod. A relic from millions of years ago. Basically, the clam or mollusk had died and the shell was replaced by calcium. I found brachiopods, shark's teeth, bones and sprayed them with a poly coating, painting names and designs on them so they wouldn't crumble.
One day, I found a Sony microcassette recorder for sale in a used store. It was aluminum and worked so well. It was smaller than a pack of cigarettes. I thought it was cool! I had also traveled all the way to the Grand Canyon in the back of a yellow Chevy pickup truck one summer with my mentor, Don Witt, then a physics grad student, and found a geode to die for. It was the biggest geode I'd ever seen. I had these with me at the boarding house and Justin noticed them. As I sat admiring his bicycle, he asked me what I'd take for them. I smiled and suggested he make me an offer. He said "Well, I am leaving and I can't take this bike with me. I know you like it. How about we make a trade. It'll be a lot easier for me to put that geode and recorder in my bag and I know you'll love the bike." I agreed. So, that's how I came to acquire my Dawes Galaxy. I haven't seen Justin since college, but I imagine the geode is still intact, several million and thirty years later. And, I still have my Dawes Galaxy!