Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
From cars to cantaloupes, my family has always bought locally if we could. Still do.
When we moved to Memphis many years ago, Lindsay Chandler was one of the first people I met at the Farmer’s Market. It simply wasn’t possible for me to walk by his tables of gladiolas and not buy a few. . . Okay a dozen. They were that pretty. I went, and still go, to the market every single Saturday for fresh vegetables, but I kept going back for flowers just for the conversation and the fellowship. Yes fellowship, because if you knew Lindsay you knew everybody.
A friend who works at a big greenhouse operation in Idaho was in town for a few days. He met Lindsay at the market. They talked about propagating beneficial bugs versus using pesticides, soil, and other fascinating things. The next day found us at Lindsay’s farm. After a three hour tour, my friend flew home with a few gallons of Delta soil in his baggage.
Lindsay gave my daughter her first job. She was 15 and he was 70 or so. She arranged and sold flowers elbow to elbow with him all summer long. They became fast friends. That year, the last day of the season was tearful, like the end of the school year when you sign yearbooks and break with friends you know you’ll miss. She went to the market a couple of weeks ago to visit and catch up but he wasn’t there.
When Lindsay didn’t show up at the Ag Center for two straight Saturdays, I went to visit him on the farm. He was clearly, gravely ill. We’ve all seen that look before. I asked if he had all of his affairs in shape and he assured me that he did.
He then told me that there were just too many things wrong with him to fix. And he was right. He told me that he was okay with it too. He said that all in all he was happy with the way things turned out for him. He lowered his head and looked at me over his glasses and said, “I’ve come full circle you see?”
He’d left the family farm and become worldly, once being the road manager for ZZTOP. He had managed bands in New Orleans. He had seen some things.
But Lindsay returned to the farm where he was born. He found real enjoyment in working the earth, bitching about the weather and shooting a varmint now and again. Saturdays at the Ag Center, and visiting with all the people were his favorite times.
When word spread that Lindsay was in the hospital, two big get well cards with his picture circulated the market. They were crowded with well wishes front and back. He read them all, and commented on all the names, and even through the pain medication he knew everybody’s stories.
On the first Saturday after his passing, his family set up the flower tables just as Lindsay did, including a modest tribute to Lindsay. A steady stream of visitors stopped, bought flowers, and reread a newspaper story about him that ran on the front page of The Commercial Appeal. His family graciously received questions about “what happened?” More common was the question “What can I do to help?”
Well, maybe we already have. Lindsay’s nephew Mark reflected on a conversation they had when he was pressing Lindsay for a “mission statement” for Green Acres. “To put a smile on people’s faces,” Lindsay simply said.
Still, I echoed the sentiment of the crowd (yes it was crowded) that things just didn’t seem right without Lindsay around. Mark nodded to the tables of gladiolas and sunflowers, “He’s here.”