The Space for Something New

With the school year well under way, I have been asked a few times if Derek and I had decided to host another Rotary exchange student this year.  I am happy to report that we are now hosting two Rotary Youth exchange students.  Thomas is a 17-year-old young man from Brazil and Oliver is a 17-year-old young man from a small village outside of Prague in Czechia.  We had the normal bumps at the beginning of the year (submitting homework on a laptop and going from a school of 400 students to 4000 students) but overall everything has gone smoothly.  

One thing that neither Derek nor I quite expected was the sheer amount of food two 17-year-old boys can eat.  It is staggering.  I am trying to think of another word that can describe it but staggering is the best one I can come up with.  We discovered that The Golden Corral buffet is pretty much the only way to actually fill them up.  The first time we took them there we noticed that the people sitting at the adjacent table were tracking how many times the boys were going back to the buffet.  At one point, one of them literally shouted “you’ve got to be kidding” as they headed back for more.  Personally, I think The Golden Corral is rethinking their whole business model. 

Now I don’t want you to think that the boys only eat, they are really great kids and they always want to help us with whatever project we are working on.  Since there have been a few teaser days of cooler weather, Derek has had both of them out in the garden getting everything ready for the winter plants.  One of the tasks that Derek asked their assistance with was clearing one the planters from weeds that had grown in over the summer.  The regular weeds were pretty easy but there were quite a few bamboo shoots coming up in the planter.  Derek explained that they would need to be dug out because the roots go all the way to China.  The two of them were feeling pretty strong so they tried to pull them out by hand.  When that didn’t work, they got the shovel, and they couldn’t believe how strong and deep the root systems of the bamboo proved to be.  They looked at the ground and on the surface it looked like nothing was there, but just under the top layer of soil there was a quagmire of the toughest roots you can imagine.   

Derek explained that anytime you want to plant a new garden you have to turn the soil and remove the old roots.  It is possible to cut the new flowers into the old root system, and they will look fine for a while, but eventually the old root system will choke out the new plants and you end up with a sad flower garden.  They took a shovel to cut a line around the planter they were working with.  There are roots everywhere and to try and dig them all up is futile, so he told them to just stick with the area that they wanted to replant. Once the edge was cut, they worked their way together toward the middle.  They dug up the dirt, cut through the roots and pulled them out as they found them.  It was hard work but the soil base of a planter is the foundation of a garden.  Once they had everything cleared away, the new flowers went in with the space to have their own roots flourish. 

To me, fall seems more like spring in Florida.  It cools down just enough that you want to get outside and start something new.  If you feel the same way, I have some simple advice for you.  You have to create the space for something new to happen in your life.  You have to look under the surface and see what’s holding you where you are, and if you decide you would rather be doing something else, rip those roots out and plant some new ones. 

Mark Ramey