Nancy Riddle Martin invited me to speak to her Garden Club and install their new officers at their March meeting. I felt so honored…but what on earth could I talk about to those talented, expert gardeners, many of whom are my good friends?
\I thought of pulling a “Pete Pike.” Pete, founder of Pike Nurseries, used to have a regular column in the MDJ, a very erudite article with gardening information. A great advertising ploy for his company. But it was ghost written. Pete was a sweetheart, a “good old boy”, obviously a brilliant businessman…but a writer and orator he was not. Once A garden club invited him to give a program. What he did was put a straight chair in the middle of their circle, sat down, and said “Do you have any questions?”
As I tried to think of an inspirational theme for my program, . Nancy told me there were seven officers, and each should be given a small symbolic gift during the installation. Seven officers. Seven…aha! Suddenly a Eureka breakthrough. I could use the pretty little star constellation called “The Seven Sisters” (or The Pleiades.) It was easy to come up with five points (get it?) of how they could shine as sister stars for the club this year. All kinds of good stuff to use . Robert Frost: “Choose something like a star, to stay your mind on and be stayed.” Browning: “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Reach for the stars….wish on a star…I was on a roll. But what to use for a meaningful little “star” gift?
I’m not artsy-crafty.. Sticking a little gold star (like I used to put on my piano students’ pieces when they learned them) on an index card was my only pathetic idea. . Dixie told me Party City sold star- shaped weights for balloons. YES! I bought seven of them in pretty colors – red, blue, green, gold. The program was still three weeks off. For once I hadn’t procrastinated. I felt so smug. I was ready.
But then…second thoughts. Shouldn’t they be silver, like real stars, instead of colors? Another trip to Party City. They were glad to exchange mine for seven silver stars. These stars weren’t slick glass like the colored ones – they were shiny with glitter. So pretty.
A week before the program. I took the stars out of the Party City plastic bag. A disaster! Showers of glitter blew around everywhere, covering the table, the floor, my hands and face. .I looked like Lady Gaga.. Oooh, no one would want these stars.
A phone call to Party City. No, they had no non-glitter silver stars. I could try at their Johnson’s Ferry or Cumberland stores No, they wouldn’t phone them for me. No, the manager wouldn’t order them. I could come to the “kiosk” at their store and order them myself. Thanks a lot!
Phoned my friendly florist,Mike Whittle, who always works miracles. . He would order silver stars. They would be in on Monday before the Wed. meeting. But they brought only six stars Monday…..and snow was predicted.. Would they bring the extra star Tuesday? I needed a backup plan. Dixie bought seven colored stars again from Party City, just in case. On Tues when I picked up Mike’s stars, , they were gorgeous: no loose glitter, graceful, perfect…but HUGE. Not a little token to put on a dresser or window sill. More like a Congressional medal, or the star at the top of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
That Wednesday morning I used Dixie’s stars, telling the officers the different colors represented the unique, special gifts of each woman. Since I didn’t read my speech but just talked, I forgot some of my best stuff, including the Frost and Browning beautiful poetry. But the club members were gracious and dear as they thanked me. And for the first time ever, I’ll be ready early with my Christmas gifts for friends this year: the shiniest, most sparkly, prettiest, BIGGEST silver stars you ever saw.