Reporting from far-flung places for the Times in the 1980s, I enjoyed the importance of covering presidential campaigns, immigration, the White House and other parts of the federal government for a prestigious newspaper. Following my Washington years, I became Atlanta bureau chief in 1989, reporting from nine southern states.
That posting collided with my reaching age 50 – and the point at which I concluded that rock 'n' roll bang-bang journalism works for some an entire career, but not for me.
Knowing when it's time to go – and then going, is good. I did, and I did.
It's also good if you can follow your passions, something not always easy to do but usually worthwhile. Fortunately, I was able to change writings and stay in journalism. In 1992 I left the Times, moving to the Journal-Constitution and sharing stories about gardening and food – two of life's more profound pleasures, teachers and social lubricants.
This was my second time around, as I had been a member of the Journal-Constitution's editorial board in the 1970s.
Timing's everything. While I enjoyed telling people what to think back then, and while I worked in a sweet spot in journalism during my 12 years with the Times, I was at a point in life when writing about people's passions, including my own, was most gratifying, personally and professionally. That writing also led to heart-warming connections with a great many people, connections that promise to last a lifetime.
I've written two books: Gardening Life, a collection of essays, and a memoir, In My Father's Garden. I corresponded for the PBS television program The Victory Garden, and I've written for a number of magazines, including Southern Accents, Attache, Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens.
In addition to writing on gardening and a broad range of other subjects, I deliver speeches from time to time. Too, I practice sourdough bread – and a few other foods.
After almost a dozen years in Connecticut, I'm back in the South for the third (and last) time, managing my ornamental plantings in Marietta, Georgia, with care and feeding from my wife Lyn and close supervision by garden Cat Bette.