In spite of his sore neck and the fact that he had to soon grab his red and white striped Cat In The Hat hat to go read to school kids, it was obvious that Mayor Ronnie had a spring in his step that was, at least, partly due to the fact that Spring was showing its dear face in Athens, Alabama. Of course we had to get into our occasional and always friendly regional tiff over the proper name of the flowers that in part comprise the title of this article. I am from the land of the Daffodil Parade and Daffodil Festival, and buttercups are very small, not grown from bulbs at all, and bloom much later than “daffs.” “In the South they are called buttercups, Ali,” he told me, and because he is the Mayor, I guess I had to concede. There was, by the way, no disagreement over the proper name for forsythia.
The weekend had been great, the sermon edifying, and he pruned back the yellow rose of Texas bush at their house, which, he said, “was almost like fighting kudzu.” He played golf at Canebrake and told me about the sight of a red-tailed hawk, nearly albino in its coloring, soaring, flashing its red tail, and his comment about it all was, “It just don’t get better than this.”
He told me about the success of Swamp John’s, one of many recent fundraisers in our town dedicated to fight cancer, and how proud he was of the fact that Athens is “a caring community, one with great energy.” As always, we are staring down real challenges, and as of this writing, those include the portended effects of sequestration and budget cuts. “We’ll take on military cuts, we will wrap our arms around this community, and we will get through it,” he said.
In a time when the way government handles money can make tempers flare quickly and far, he told me something I did not know, and that is that the city budgets are reviewed every two weeks to see “if we are on track.” Boy, do I wish they would do that in Washington DC, and I am glad that here in Athens they are on top of it!
He bemoaned the fact that “nuts love unrest, they love to divide and conquer,” and talked about the possibility that if we aren’t careful, we are going to tear ourselves and our country apart. “We need to roll our sleeves up, get to work, and work together.” We agreed that it is way easier to complain and grumble than come up with any solutions.
As usual, our time was way too short and somehow we managed to cover a lot of ground. And then, he was out the door, on to modeling to kids that there are values that stand, that reading is a good idea, and in our town, at least, the Mayor makes time to read to kids and encourage them to be their best selves. So whether you call those yellow things buttercups or daffs, Spring is on its way, we are blessed, and we as a community are building one of the most wonderful towns in America, from the inside out. Hallelujah!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner