In Search of the Perfect Magnolia Tree

I get sheepish when I am getting ready to go on an artist date.  Have the dogs been out?   Check. Has everyone eaten? Check. Do I have my camera? Check. I sometimes look for reasons why I have to stay.  My husband is so good.  He supports me 100 percent.  “Have a great time,” he says as he gets on the riding lawn mower.  I feel bad that he is working around the house and I am not.  Good grief, I just need to get into that car and go.

Last week I was all set to find the perfect magnolia tree.  I am on a magnolia roll.  Besides, if I didn’t go soon, they would all be gone.  Magnolia blossoms only happen once a year and if you don’t catch them in their splendor, you have a long wait til next June.  Every time I had been out running errands I saw the most wonderful trees but didn’t have the time to stop or didn’t have my camera to record such beauty.  This was it.  I needed to perform.

During my journalism days, my favorite part of being a reporter wasn’t investigating or talking to anyone…it was composing the story.  If I didn’t get the good quotes or ask enough questions, my stories were weak.  I am a naturally shy person but can overcome that tendency if I am properly motivated.  It is the same with photography and getting a good painting.

My plan was to head down the side street and check out the magnolia trees that I saw on my walk that previous morning.  At House 1 I slung my camera around my neck…that would show that I was a serious artist.  I confidently knocked….no doorbell.  No one.  Gosh, such a huge magnolia tree.  I am in the South.  I am in the country.  One could get shot for trespassing.  I went around to the back porch.  I knocked.  Cute,  older Southern lady answered.  She was delighted at my request.  I am in!  I headed back to that front yard and realized that most of the blossoms were too high.  Some had been battered about from the huge thunderstorm the night before.  Some were turning brown.  The sun was hiding behind some clouds.  Drat!  Imperfect lighting.  My intense paintings need intense lighting.

House 2.  No one was home.  I stood on the edge of the front lawn.  Well, I actually trespassed a little.  It was for a good cause.  But like I said, one can get shot around here.

House 3.  The perfect magnolia tree in the front but the property looked a little shady.  Unkempt yard.  Weeds.  Lots of wasp nests by the front door.  Open garage with a Harley. Should I knock?  Lots of cartons of wasp and insect killer.  I am standing in a stranger’s garage.  I arm myself with a business card and timidly knock.  The hair on my neck stands up.  No answer.  Just as well, I justify.

I was done with houses.  I drove to the next little town and looked longingly at the magnificent magnolia trees in yards.  Sigh.  I found a park with public trees.  Yes!  I parked and discovered that the flowers in the trees were about 20 feet up in the air.  I would certainly have a different perspective, but not what I had anticipated.  I toyed with the idea of climbing something when a very kind Southern lady stopped and waived.  She felt sorry for me.  With her sweet Southern voice, she welcomed me to Social Circle.  Yes, there is a town in Georgia named Social Circle!  She said all I had to do was to drive down the road, take a left at the light and there would be a place called “Magnolia Manor.”  This was the place where I would find what I was looking for.  I was in!  She even told me that if there was a red truck parked there, the proprietor would be there and taking pictures would be no problem.

I found the place and that is what I saw.


Wow!  Bingo!  I had found it.  The sun came out from behind the fickle clouds.   Click.  Click.  I had what I wanted.  The essence of things Southern.  The blossoms were low to the ground.  I was elated.  I am not going to share my photos so soon.  That will come in the form of paintings.  Here is one last image.  What an artist date!

Thank you Social Circle.  Thank you Magnolia Manor.  Thank you sweet Southern lady.