Well. After four days of gale force winds shaking the house and stripping most leaves from trees and shrubs, the wind finally exhausted itself last night. A gentle calm descended....
...and so did the fog. An interesting way to start November.
I got some sad news last week, and am just finding time now to write about it. One of my professors from my days at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Dr. Lorne A. McFadden, passed away a couple of weeks ago in Truro after an apparently fairly lengthy illness.
Lorne was directly responsible, along with his colleague Albert E. (Doc) Roland, for my development as a plant nut. He taught botany and plant pathology at the AC, and while he was on sabbatical when I took botany in first year, he became more than a professor to me--he became a mentor who encouraged me, and almost a friend. When he wasn't teaching and I wasn't in class, we would spend long periods of time talking about plants, plant diseases, treatments for diseases, weed control....all things to do with the mysteries of plants.
Even then, I was interested in organic gardening/farming, biological control, native plants and such. When in our plant pathology course we had to write a paper on a disease of a crop, I asked "Dr. M" if I could do an essay on biological control of plant pathogens--a topic scarcely discussed back then. He was totally agreeable, and I got an A on the paper--it was actually a mark, and I forget the mark, but an A for sure.
He always encouraged such thought and study in me, and when I decided to leave one program and transfer into plant science, he wrote a very supportive letter to the dean asking that I be allowed to change programs. He got me summer employment at the College, and put in a word for me for parttime work during the class year. He lent me books, answered questions, and was one of the two best teachers I had in my assorted years of post secondary study. (the other one was an English professor at Acadia)
And I'm only one of thousands of students he taught over the years, and one of many who he inspired and encouraged on to bigger and better things.
Lorne was a prodigious gardener, as I got to see once when a fellow professor, one I worked for as a summer student, was leaving to pursue Ph.D studies at Guelph. There was a going away party for Bob at Lorne's house, and I remember spending more time out in the garden looking at plants than with people.
It's been years since I've seen Dr. M--after he retired, I don't know that he ever visited the biology department, and on my infrequent trips to Truro, I wasn't inclined to visit a professor's home--even though several professors have become friends of mine over the years. The details of his illness are unknown to me, and in fact I missed his obituary when it ran in our newspaper; I only found out when my mother mentioned it to me on the phone a week ago.
I haven't decided what shrub I'll plant in his memory next spring, but there certainly will be one. Goodbye, Dr. M, you were one of the best, and i'll ever be grateful for your enthusiasm and encouragement.