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Mack Williams: A Lowe’s Spring

Stopping in Lowe’s recently, it was evident Spring had arrived. In fact, Lowe’s had earlier already gotten the jump on Spring’s natural harbingers, the dandy lions and the wild onions with its offerings of soil-in-a-bag and Spring-ready plants-in-a pot — even rocks-in-a-bag for those yards poor in such (not my old yard on the Old Concord Road, there rocks could have even been bagged up, taken away, to be followed by the “eruption” of more!).

In the outside flower-garden-for-sale section, shoppers pushed the same kind of grocery baskets used at Food Lion between rows of tables of potted flowering plants and shrubs. I thought for a second about similar grocery shoppers in the fresh vegetables and fruits section, but this “produce” was inedible (except for vegetable plants), and in some cases, their ingestion would necessitate a visit to the emergency room (or worse, in the case of  cat or dog). Unlike the grocery store, these had no expiration dates. Any “expiration” here would be the fault of not enough water or sun.

A little boy of about 4 was walking on some of the empty wooden slats of the tables, and his mother was trying to get him down before he fell or caused a potted plant to tumble.

People carried some sticks of lumber in shopping baskets, a far cry from the “gravity” of the shipments of lumber transported by flat car on the railroad.

Back inside Lowe’s proper, one of nature’s Spring harbingers had set up shop in the ceiling’s metal rafters. I saw this bird pick up a piece of discarded candy wrapper from the floor and take it up to the ceiling where I just could make out a bird nest nestled among the man-made, metal  “needles” of the ceiling’s supportive structure.

This bird seemed to be enjoying the best of both worlds, taking advantage of a certain “inside-outsideness,” utilizing man’s structure in the event of the most violent of storms. I did pause and wonder if the bird  knew how to navigate the temporary openings and closings of the automatic doors to get and bring back food; but birds are smarter than we think, as my late wife Diane, daughter Rachel, son Jeremy and I saw at a bird show in Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The little bird had adapted to its thousand-plus-square-foot “cell,” much as that famous man who made the most of his Alcatraz cell-time by becoming a leading expert on birds!

Over-sized carts containing “yard’s worth” amounts of both deciduous and pine-related trees were being paid for and wheeled out to Lowe’s parking lot. There seemed to be just as much a “Spring rush” going on at Lowe’s as there had been some “snowstorm rushes” a few months previously at Food Lion. Plants, potting soil and fertilizer seemed to be the Lowe’s version of the grocery-store run on milk, eggs and bread.

Making my way out to my car after purchasing some moss to re-pot my carnivorous plants (soon to resume their eating), I saw a man loading several tall, thin pines into the flatbed of his pickup truck. I said to myself “Lowe’s truly has everything, for there go “The Pines of Rome,” musically written about by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi in the tone poem by the same name (pictured along the Appian Way on the old album cover).

I suddenly remembered the decorations of our Roman Banquets in Mrs. Thayer Puckett’s Latin class at East Rowan in the late 1960s. I’m sure she would have loved it if someone would have driven up to the Roman Banquet with “The Pines of Rome” in a pickup truck and set them up in East’s cafeteria, the site of the “orgy” (one limited solely to food).
In addition to the “The Pines of Rome,” Respighi also wrote “The Fountains of Rome;” and as I watched this gentleman’s pine-filled truck disappear in the distance, I felt sure he would soon return to Lowe’s  for “Rome’s” fountains.

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