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Flowers seem to grow on you
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Why is it the older you get the more you begin to notice things you really never paid much attention to before? Simple things. Quiet things. Natural things.

It's been that way for me, for instance, with flowers. When I was growing up in Moreland, my Aunt Jessie's yard was the flower capital of the county. People drove from as far away as Grantville, Corinth and Smith City to gaze at the color show Aunt Jessie's yard put on each spring.

I never paid much attention to her flowers, myself. The only time I ever thought about them was when Aunt Jessie would berate me for tromping through her flowers in search of the baseball I just hit from my yard to hers.

"Get out of those flowers, young man!" she must have screamed at me a million times. I never understood her concern. There I was practicing to grow up to be Gil Hodges, and how could I continue without my baseball?

Now flowers slay me. The azaleas will be blooming in Atlanta soon. So will the dogwoods. Their beauty decorates the city in pinks and whites and takes an ol' flower stomper's breath.

This week there have been days that were certainly whispers of spring. It was warm and still and it chased away the dreariness of winter. I spent one afternoon on the golf course. On one hole, the sprinkler system was wetting the grounds around it. I smelled a smell I hadn't though of in years. The smell of water upon dry soil.

I can't describe that smell in the words, but I remembered it from when the rain used to hit the dusty dirt road in front of my grandmother's house. Also, I remembered it from when I would be in my grandfather's fields, following him as he followed his plow and his mule, and it would "come up in a cloud," as the old folks used to say, and the rain pelted down upon the freshly plowed earth and produced that smell again.

I looked up at an absolutely clear, blue sky this week. Its brilliance was remarkable. Up there somewhere was a hole in the ozone layer, but I couldn't see it. All I saw was a blue so clear and so bright it was like looking into eternity.

It's also difficult to describe the feeling of warmth. It's a secure feeling, somehow. I just sort of stood out there on the golf course and wallowed in it.

When chill turns to warm, it may be whoever created all this reminding us an end does finally come to winters of discontent. This is my forty-fifth spring. But it was only the last several years that I began to take a few moments to relish them.

I vividly remember that first time I really noticed and appreciated the coming of spring. I was on the golf course then, too. Augusta National. I had just turned 30. I was covering the Masters golf tournament for the Chicago Sun Times.

I was standing on number 16 on an April Sunday that was spectacular. I was warm and cloudless. There was the green of the turf, the blue of the sky, the pink of the azaleas. I would be catching a flight in a few hours, back to Chicago. I'd called the office earlier. They said it was snowing.

I stood out there and soaked it all in for the first time. It did something to my soul. It also did something to my future. I vowed at that moment I'd never miss another Georgia spring.

Twenty-two days later I was back at home in Atlanta with a job as a typer of words upon blank sheets of paper.

Fifteen years later I am still taking the time to smell and feel the glory of springtime. Getting older does have its benefits.

Sorry about the flowers I stomped, Aunt Jessie. I never learned to hit a curve ball anyway.

Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.