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James Dodson was an award-winning regular columnist for Golf Magazine for almost 20 years and travel editor for Departures Magazine, American Express's flagship travel magazine, for a decade. A former Senior Writer for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution Sunday Magazine and Yankee Magazine, his public affairs and political writing has won numerous national awards including the William Allen White Award for Public Affairs Journalism given by the University of Kansas. His non-golf work has appeared in Gentlemen's Quarterly, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Travel and Leisure, Town and Country, Reader's Digest, Geo, Outside Magazine, and numerous other national publications. In addition, he has won several Golf Writers of America Awards for columns in Golf Magazine, for whom he has worked almost two decades. His books, Final Rounds and Faithful Travelers, were best sellers with Final Rounds selling 300,000 copies worldwide, in several languages, since publication. Final Rounds, also received the International Network of Golf's industry honors award for Best Golf Book of 1996. Both Final Rounds, and Faithful Travelers are currently being produced for film. Mr. Dodson's book, A Golfer's Life - the autobiography of Arnold Palmer - was a New York Times bestseller. His bestselling book, The Dewsweepers, was released in late 2001, followed by The Road to Somewhere -Travels with a Young Boy through an Old World, in November 2003.
His latest book, Beautiful Madness - One Man's Journey Through Other People's Gardens, a tale of shared horticultrual obsession, burrows deeply into the story of how Americans became such fanatical gardeners and are today, in fact, at the forefront of what everyone agrees is a new Gold Age of Gardening, an unprecedented growth in gardening's popularity that has - according to a recent Gallop poll - an astonishing 80 percent of adult Americans claiming to be primary hobby gardeners.
Mr. Dodson, 52, a father of two, divides his time between Maine and North Carolina and is currently Writer-in-Residence at The Pilot Newspaper in Southern Pines, North Carolina. He is also presently serving as Artist-in-Residence at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, where he teaches advanced writing.
Beautiful Madness (2006)
Chapter 1 - Slightly Off in the Woods
One of the first things you learn when you move to the great state of Maine, as I did twenty-five years ago, is that people don’t move here for the timeless quality of springtime.
As winter yields its icy death grip and people in the lower forty-eight begin poking their heads out of the tool hutch and enjoying the welcome site of longer days, budding fruit trees and tender green shoots rising promisingly in their yards, we lonely soulds who reside up here in the far upper right-hand corner of America are still gazing at a landscape that basically resembles a frozen TV dinner.
Some years we’re still actually digging out at Easter, and then there was that memoriable Mother’s Day a few years back when I phoned up our regular plow guy Earl to ask if he would mind coming over to push several inches of new spring snow off our driveway so we could drive weekend guests to the beach.
When people from other parts of America who know the beautiful Pine Tree State simply as the ultimate summer getaway spot—admired for its gorgeous rocky coast, vast evergreen forests, summer camps, and postcard lobster shacks—ask me where exactly I reside in Maine and politely wonder it, ahem, I even “stay there” during the brutally long and dark winter months, I like to borrow that old Bing Crosby line from Holiday Inn and explain, “I live just north of Portland, friend, and well below zero.”
Besides, as real Mainers are happy to explain, there are only three major seasons up here you have to content with: getting ready for winter, getting through the winter, and getting the hell over winter.
Copyright © 2006 by James Dodson