Thursday, August 11, 2005

Arbor Man Strikes Again

Well folks, I'm back from a week of vacation (sort of) in the good ol' Lone Star State. (Yes, that means Texas.) I have quite a few pictures and stories from that trip, but not enough time to share them. So instead, let me tell you about the interesting character I met today while out on assignment for the paper.

He was a retired pediatrician who spends his time now planting trees. Yes, tree planting. Before you think of this as a fruitless effort (ha! pun intended), I'll inform you that he did indeed win one of two national awards entitled: Arbor Day Foundation Good Stewardship Award. Don't ask me what it means, but it sounds important, right?

So this guy had over 300 acres of land on which he had turned out a cross-country running course, two manmade ponds, a conservation area, a hand-constructed picnic shelter, and a field trip location for elementary kids. And more, I'm sure, that's just what I saw of it.

I was getting the impression this guy knew nature.

He wasn't exactly a young skipper (he was pushing 80) so after I met him, we rode off for a tour on his trusty little' golf cart. Everything was hunky-dory until I spotted IT. A fat and dirty groundhog lounging in the middle of the uphill slope our golf cart was speeding toward.

"Oh," I said, pointing. "Look at that."

Mr. Arbor Man made some sort of grunt that left me questioning whether or not he had actually heard me. (Judging from the previous leg of the journey, this was not an unfounded line of thought.) But I had pointed, so I didn't mention it again. Meanwhile, as these thoughts swarmed my head, he just kept driving. Heading straight for the groundhog.

I think he sped up a little then, but it might have been my imagination.

The front two wheels straddled the animal, but upon its attempted escape I heard (and felt!) a significant ka-bump. The last left wheel had done the groundhog in.

I gaped, incredulous, at my chauffeur. Turning his head, he glanced at the roadkill and then back at me.

The Arbor Man's only words were, "Those things are a nuisance."

And we never spoke of it again.

Here's his picture so you can put a face to the story, but please don't sic the SPCA on him.

Arbor Man
Originally uploaded by emster214.
Dr. Burntner, a retired pediatrician, recently won one of two Arbor Day Foundation Stewardship national awards for his tree planting and conservation efforts in Rockingham Co. He owns over 300 acres of land where he has planted over 4,000 trees. Part of his extensive property is seen reflected here in his sunglasses.

Click on the picture to enlarge it, as this photo is much better viewed large.


Jamie Dawn said...

Love the story and the picture of Arbor Man. Your life takes you to many interesting places. Mine does too, but I don't have the skill at photography like you do. Pictures add so much! Thanks for sharing.

Heather/SHTEZQ said...

great story I love looking at your photography. it is truely a pleasure.

Steven said...

The groundhog saw more than a shadow. Does this mean we'll go into an ice age?

Sarah said...

I would have screamed!!! :)

hbl said...

They are a nuisance. Buggers dug a summer burrow in my front shrubbery and ate everything in my garden. I refer to them as 'road kill walking' or 'road kill'. Actually, I live trapped the little pest and let him go in a nearby forest preserve. The species owes me....

Anonymous said...

"Help me if you can I'm feeling down" - I also think I must be lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him on the golf course yesterday. Now this is strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time I saw him there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new lcd tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a lcd tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger.

Then I'm gonna go home, put ma dancin' suit on, munch me some uppers and freak out to that maaaaaaaaad surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on ma lcd tv .

How cool is that boy?

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

Anonymous said...

I just started a vw golf blog

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say that I agree with you 100%. You might like this golf lesson golf site that I came across. Thanks again for your insight.