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Loran Smith Columnist

Published Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring in Thomasville

THOMASVILLE – Spring likely will have sprung here by the time this reaches print -- if not in full bloom, enough so that the planting of crops, the flowering of plants and shrubs, and emergence of balmy conditions will signal the growing season has begun in this gem of a South Georgia community. Pollen was platitudinous a week ago before heavy rains washed it away.

Immediately, dormancy will segue into productivity. Fallow soil will turn toward fertility, and the abundant roses, for which Thomasville is so widely known, will take on fresh hues and scents. The hunters, who have been stalking Thomasville's Bob White quail since last October, have put away their guns for a seven-month hiatus, while maintaining fond memories of the best such experience the outdoors has to offer.

Thomasville is like your favorite dessert. You can't get enough. Saying the name of this charming town requires the use of an exclamation point: "Thomasville!" It is that kind of place. If my postal address were not Athens, where in this state would I most want to live? St. Simons would get a very passionate vote. The Marshes of Glynn -- how emotionally uplifting. Anywhere near a trout stream in North Georgia would get consideration. There is a Golden Isles-oriented passion that holds sway when I am in Thomasville. I am given to boasting of the weekends I spend here.

An invitation last weekend to participate in a banquet honoring an old friend in Bainbridge brought about the need for schedule rearranging. I was not disposed to drive to the southwest corner of our wonderful state and do a quick turnaround. All the while, I was thinking about the fact that Bainbridge is less than an hour from Thomasville. Why not spend the weekend there?

When we stay in Thomasville, there is a guest house we use, a timber and hardwood enclave that speaks to the heart. The guest quarters of Gordon and Barbara Dixon have comforting views that harmonize with sunrises and sunsets. Deer consider this their habitat, and turkeys feel the same. Neither seems to bolt and run, as is their natural instinct, when their space is invaded by someone of the two-legged specimen. Are they so bold because they know ownership will not load a gun and aim in their direction?

"If I ever thought about shooting one of those turkeys, I think Barbara would shoot me first," Gordon laughed.

Driving from the manor house to the guest house after dusk one recent evening, a distance of little more than a quarter mile, deer raced in front of my car with reckless abandon. It appeared they were everywhere.

This time of the year, socializing on the porches of the guest house is stimulating. Stately pines with pine straw lying neatly and without disarray or clutter leaves one with the most harmonious of feelings. Sunsets over the tree tops make you think of "America the Beautiful." Sunrises allow for a walk around the property, which takes you by a peaceful lake with Canada geese, quiet and inoffensive, the foul kingdom's version of an older couple on a park bench.

At breakfast, a conversation with the hostess brought about an unexpected opportunity.

"The lake is overpopulated with big fish," Barbara said. "My son, Duke, recently caught a 10-pound pass out of the lake." She didn't know what I was thinking, but the next trip to Thomasville, I expect to travel with a portable rod and reel -- with a passion to help solve her problem.

Thomasville has earned my greatest respect, which will endure. Thomasville doesn't lack for much, and I'm doing my best to take in all this garden spot has to offer. And as often as possible.

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