Thursday, March 18, 2010

Of Lady Birds and Wildflowers

This issue of Wildflower Magazine has a feature written by Melissa Gaskill called Trail Blazers- our picks for trails that put wildflowers in focus. Melissa interviewed me to pick a favorite wildflower hike in the Northwest-I chose Cady and West Cady Ridge in the Henry M Jackson Wilderness (and featured in my Day Hiking Central Cascades Book). Wildflower is the magazine of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the organization that first lady Lady Bird Johnson started back in 1982. LBJ wasn't my favorite president, but he did some good things in the conservation arena. Lady Bird was instrumental too in beautification projects, the establishment of Redwood National Park and a host of other important environmental campaigns.

Back in 2004 I had the opportunity to spend a week with Lady Bird's daughter, Linda Johnson (and her husband Chuck Robb, former senator and governor of Virginia) in the French Pyrenees. I was leading a hiking group with my wife-and Chuck, Linda and their entourage of friends from Texas and Georgia were our clients. We had a lot of fun and it was especially interesting for me to talk politics and history with this group. I'll never forget riding a chairlift with the former president's daughter and we talked about everyday American things-life in the suburbs. Only in America (I know we were in France-but you get my meaning) would this ever happen- a president's daughter and a lowly hiking guide chatting and sharing dinners and spending time on the trail. In fact, we had Linda in our hotel room talking to Lady Bird because she couldn't figure out how to use the phone-we had to make the call for her!

But one of the things that I'll always remember and cherish, is when I told friends of the First Lady that I had looked up Chuck Robbs' environmental record while he served in the senate and I told them that I was pleased with it. One of the friends, a refined southern woman-looked at me and softly but emphatically said- "of course it is-do you think that having Lady Bird as a mother-in-law-that she'd let him get away with not having a good environmental record!?" It was a warm moment and a nice view into the power brokers and politicians that we all too often demonize and denigrate. It was a great little anecdote-and I will always cherish it. When Lady Bird passed away a few years later-I felt as if I had known her. And now being in the magazine of the foundation that she started-I feel a stronger bond than if I was just interviewed for any old magazine. Thanks for all you have done Lady Bird--may those that follow shine in your example.

No comments: