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Dr. Dirt
April 2014

Sword Words

— Dr. Dirt is reminded that words can be very messy in translation —

The pen can be mightier than the sword, but sometimes the sword comes back at you and makes a bloody hash of your words. My article last month, surprisingly to me, raised some swords. My notes were intended to reflect my thrill at the thought of retirement and the exciting possibilities that this opens up for the tail end of my life.

Unfortunately, some interpreted my comments as a condemnation of the Thompson School and my time there. I did say bluntly, “I quit,” which I can only describe as accurate, and, perhaps in excess, I quoted the famous country song, “Take this job and shove it.” I thought that was clearly tongue-in-cheek, but at least one found the article unprofessional and self-serving and indicated that others felt the same way.

So now my irrational mind careens into defense mode: Everybody hates me. But really, I must say in my defense that I certainly meant no derogation. I’m proud of the work I’ve done at the Thompson School. For over a hundred years, the School has done a great job of educating New Hampshire and New England residents in the areas of “the agricultural and mechanical arts.” At present there are nine program areas, over half in agriculture-related subjects. Faculty and staff, myself included, are dedicated to the School, most with decades at TS under their belts.

I’ve been teaching here since 1985. There have been great years, and a few that could have been better, but all in all, it’s been a positive experience. It’s especially gratifying to see so many graduates out there in landscaping and horticulture, doing well and contributing to the greater cause of greening the planet. Quite a few have served the New Hampshire Landscape Association and the NH Plant Growers’ Association in a variety of capacities. I like to think I played some part in that commitment to service.

It’s likely that the Thompson School will be undergoing some major changes over the coming year. I’m hopeful that this will usher in a renaissance for the School, and a healthy positioning of the School at the University and in the state and region. I’m also happy to be “graduating” after three decades, and commencing into the rest of my life. These are all positive developments. Life’s too short to focus on the negatives, though that’s easy enough to do these days. Let’s just move forward. The future is here…no, here…no, here…no, here…

Dr. Dirt is continually amazed and/or dismayed by world opinion, as is John Hart, Professor of Horticultural Technology, Thompson School of Applied Science, University of New Hampshire, Durham.



Dr. Dirt, a.k.a. John Hart