Mark Ballard

Taking a lesson from spring

Mark Ballard made these camellias out of typewriter paper.
Mark Ballard made these camellias out of typewriter paper. Special to The Telegraph

There’s something in the air and it’s not just yellow pollen. Something’s changing right before our very eyes. It’s not sinister or deceptive in any way. It happens every year around this time. It’s spring just dropping by for a visit — and a little early this year.

For me, spring is like a dear friend dropping by pleasant visit. At first, the signs are subtle with a little dusting of pollen here and there. Then, in the blink of an eye, green leaves unfurl and blossoms begin to open.

All the dull hues of grey and brown that winter brought are quickly replaced when spring blows into town and redecorates with a much brighter palette. Spring is never intimidated by color. Without hesitation, it uses almost every color in the box of crayons — especially the brighter ones.

The other day, I was taking a walk through our yard looking at all the camellia bushes. Tall and stately they stood against the blue sky as they have for so many years. Their delicate blooms dotted the shiny, dark green leaves with bright pinks, deep reds, happy corals, brilliant whites, and every combination of these you can imagine.

Some blooms seem content being solid with just one color while others insist on mixing things up a bit. I’ve always been fond of all things variegated because I love to see colors interact with each other. The more colors that blend together the better. I draw and paint a lot of camellias but I am especially drawn to ones that are mixtures of colors.

Upon closer observation of a peppermint camellia, the white didn’t seem bothered at all with the red sharing part of the spotlight. Neither color shoved or pushed to steal the limelight. Instead, they enjoyed each other’s company and proudly worked together to shine.

The more I looked at all the varieties of camellias we have, the more I thought about the state of our nation and world. Everything and everyone is so divided with one group attacking another. No one wants to even listen to anyone with a different opinion than their own. No one wants to budge an inch or unite in any way. No one wants to become variegated.

We are all stronger working together than we are standing stubbornly with both feet planted and firmly refusing to move. The answers would be so simple if egos didn’t get in the way. Instead they become barriers that only separate and divide. Someone told me something years ago that has stuck to me like glue: “Just imagine what could be accomplished if no one had to get the credit.”

These words are so true. If you don’t believe me just take a look around. Opposing opinions are not up for debate but instead have caused friendships to end, fights to ensue and hatred to brew and bubble up like a brew in a witch’s caldron. It bothers me so much that I have to try to stifle the negativity and put positivity on a pedestal instead. I use the platforms I have to share only positive things.

That’s exactly what spring does when it comes once a year. It finds the positive things that have been hidden and dormant all winter and puts them on a pedestal. What a production it puts on every single year without fail. I keep praying that the world will take a lesson from spring. Just take a look around. Spring has a wealth of positive advice to offer.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.