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  • I have always found that my view of success

    has been iconoclastic: success to me is not

    about money or status or fame, its about finding

    a livelihood that brings me joy and self-sufficiency

    and a sense of contributing to the world."

    - Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop

    I love reflecting on events of each day for a story, just one story for you. Just one story, from all the possible stories, that I believe may bring a little bit of light into your life, maybe make you smile, maybe open a door, perhaps even bring some hope in this dark time.

    Most days, too many tales present themselves, wanting to be told, and it is hard to choose. But today, it was easy. The American Dream!

    This afternoon, Surfer Dude and I needed to go over to the Meadow Creek Nursery to pick out some lavender, draecenas, and bougainvillia.

    We drove down a narrow dirt road past large white netted warehouses filled with hundreds of plants, all glowing a hundred shades of green in the soft afternoon light.

    We pulled to a stop in front of the last warehouse, and a cheerful young man in a bright red shirt came out, waving, with a big smile: “Hola!” he said. “Great to see you again! How’s it going?”

    This was Tony, the son of Antonio. Tony is in his mid-thirties, and now owns his own nursery. I always look forward to these visits. There is a sense of family here,and I always feel welcome.

    We talked about varieties of lavender, the type of dark green draecena I needed, and the exact shade of deep pink bougainvillia which would go with what I already had. We decided to return to finalize the selections.

    As we were leaving through several well ordered acres of many different kinds of flowers, grasses, trees and ground cover, Surfer Dude commented: “Nice guy! And what a place here!”

    Surfer Dude loves gardens, plants and landscaping. I knew he would enjoy this.

    I asked him if he would like to hear the story about how all this came to be, and he was eager to hear. This is the short version.

    Twenty years ago, Tony’s Dad, Antonio, arrived here in Southern California from Mexico with no money, no job, and nothing but a passion for plants and a talent for landscaping.

    "For the first year," he once told me, “I slept under orange trees in an orchard, and lived mainly on avocados.”

    It was not easy to bootstrap his way out of this situation, but he found small gardening jobs, rode the bus, and saved up for an old truck. People loved Antonio.

    His positive attitude, work ethic, friendly manner, and commitment to excellence provided more and more opportunities.

    Antonio became not only financially stable, but leased an acre up in the canyon for a small nursery. This is where I first discovered him. At that point, he had branched out to exotic flowers, bamboo, exquisite varieties of ferns. I would look for excuses to buy things from him.

    From here he thrived, brought his family from Mexico and put them to work.

    His son, Tony, though still in high school, helped him run the business, which continued to grow, as Antonio leased more acres, and took on bigger clients and jobs.

    Today, the family owns and runs several large, thriving nurseries. Tony owns Meadow Creek. It has been inspiring to watch him assume more and more responsibility, and continue to add more land and more varieties of plants to his business. And the same for Antonio.

    Surfer Dude was impressed: “WOW!” he said. And I agreed,

    “For all the problems we face right now,” I said, “ For all the hardship and economic woes, this family is an example of the American Dream in action.”

    From just about nothing except passion, talent, integrity and drive, Antonio created a dynamic business which provides an outstanding service to our Tri-County area, and he has created good jobs for his family and others along the way.

    Surfer Dude was quiet, thinking about all this, and what it had taken to create what we were driving through.

    I could tell that this story of Antonio’s success had hit a chord with him, because we talk a lot about the economy, the hardship so many millions are suffering, and current national and global problems. We look for hope. Finding signs of hope makes us feel good.

    “Wow,” he said softly, as we headed back to the freeway, with our samples of bouganvillia, lavender, and draecena on the dashboard.

    “That’s amazing,” he added. “ I guess the American Dream isn’t dead after all, is it?”

    With the blue French lavender putting forth its spicy perfume into the air, and the bougainvillia blossoms glowing like rubies in the sunlight, we were off to our next errands, and the Farmer's Market.

    (Photograph by Alex, modified in Adobe Photo Shop)

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