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By Peter Kidd, December 2013
Okay, new carpet was installed today. There is sheet-rocking going on in my office. Half the roof of the barn has been reroofed. All the walls and windows have been washed. I have sorted through my writings and books, packed and labeled them, put them into the bed of the truck. The dining room floor is being washed as I type. It’s like a six-month symphony coming to a crescendo. This getting the house de-cluttered and ready to put on the market has almost slain me, but I am atop it, at last. If things fall together as planned, I should hit the road aimed towards Texas within the next ten days.
I imagine all you landscape warriors are finishing up, licking your wounds, counting acorns. I officially retired one year ago. Tossed in the hat. Figured I was never gonna arrive at any place where I was financially secure. People with that as a priority don’t get divorced at 60...just saying. I built a small empire, then I dynamited it. Could it be any better? I suspect not. My strategy is to sell my house, pay off all debt, sell a couple trucks and two more Bobcats, etc. Collect my acorns. Then live the life of a monk and write – what I have always wanted to do – but had to raise kids, including a wife, pay for colleges. You know the human condition. Now, once I get out of the area, and ultimately sell the house, I can deconstruct all the compartments I have built in my psyche over the last 40 years. There will just be me and my paramour. So, the Glory Land it is!
I just want to take a few syllables to recollect and remind myself how much I loved my job all my working life. It allowed me “to turn stone into bread” since I was 19 years old. After poets, my next favorite group of human beings are plant people. Many of the relationships I have formed have been career long for me. I could name names, and I may a few, but I tip my hat to Leon Pearson who set the bar of what was required to make one’s living as an artist. He was the maestro for my generation’s growth within the industry. We all owe him an enormous debt. His adherence to excellence and “attention to detail” inspired me.
I’d also like to thank my peers for their activist nature that led to starting up NHLA. You all know who you are. I like to thank the next generation who has taken up the challenge and continues to execute projects to their very best. It’s an honorable profession we all chose, planting trees and plants, building stone walls and walkways, shaping communities, and sometimes ringing the bell and making art. Does it get much better than that, really? I don’t think so, but hey, to each their own.
A few special shout outs for Jean Stimmel, for another philosopher for me to relate to in the early years, and so much more. John Hart, my counter-part as Dr. Dirt in making this a much envied Newsletter throughout the New England Green Industry newsletters. Carolyn Isaak, too of course. Phil Caldwell for all his services and mostly for being and remaining Phil. Mike Dirr, for his friendship for a couple decades of both wonderful and hard times; conversation has always been seamless with Mike. And of course all my suppliers who were my teachers along the way, again you, too, know who you are: Ken Michael et al; Peter Van Berkum for teaching me so many years ago how to force plants and ongoing teachings.
I always believed from the get go, integrity was the most important quality one could build a business around. Keep one’s deal, stay on time, stay on budget, give lead time to suppliers, treat everyone with equanimity and respect. Make it magical, enjoy with gusto and passion the hours each day spent in providing for a family. Pay one’s bills on time. Keep employees’ jobs interesting for them. Most of all, keep the site, my studio, positive and moving forward on the common goal to make some dynamic art. The artist in me learned plant science, learned how to shoot grades and engineer a site, learned hardscape, learned how to estimate, how to manage money, how to sell and do business. But in the beginning and in the end, it was the artist who prevailed. About that I feel excellent. I was not forced to settle. Personnel came and they went, but I was still able to keep the bar raised to the satisfaction of my eye. To look up, at 66, and feel I had to accept very few compromises while earning a living is very satisfying. Of course, any of you who know me well, understand, I was simply unemployable! Being my own boss was the only option I ever had, truth be told. I like to think I have left a footprint in the community, as well as within the Green Industry. I won’t post my contributions, nor my education, nor previous publications, but I genuinely feel as though I have left a body of work and made a difference in my various communities.
I have only fond regards for all of you, and want to state aloud, I have no regrets, and still, now, as I did in the beginning, think being a beneficial presence is the loftiest goal. And know that love is the primal motivator, and compassion is the path. Who’d have thunk that the evolution of consciousness would turn out to be guerilla warfare? Be well.
— Although Peter has moved to Texas, he tells us that he will still contribute from time to time. We look forward to hearing from him.His articles have been a wonderful part of this Newsletter, and we are grateful to him for his articles over so many years, as well as for his role in the growth of the NH Green Industry and NHLA.