Tom Martin of rural Shawneetown says he may not make an important contribution to the betterment of mankind during his lifetime, but he can make a piece of the world a little more beautiful.
For the past 15 years in the springtime Martin and his wife, Janet, have traveled through the countryside -- from across the river in Kentucky to Janet';s native Hardin County -- and often bring some beauty home with them in the form of blooming daffodils.
Daffodils are a hardy species that seem to grow forever from their bulbs which are easily transplanted or broken apart.
"They are the first real color of spring," Martin said.
About two years ago back pain slowed down Martin';s daffodil collecting, but the yellow or white blooms line his driveway up to his home on the hill about a mile north of Shawneetown.
"Most doctors play golf for a diversion. I plant flowers," Martin said.
Martin retired from the medical profession five years ago at age 58 practicing in Shawneetown most of his career and the final five years in Eldorado.
In the spring his friends come to take in his golden hillside and see the views that extend to the Shawneetown Bridge to Ridgway and Omaha.
"I especially enjoy it that a lot of older patients from when I used to practice visit. It gives them a chance to get out," Martin said.
Most of the daffodils are the traditional yellow variety found in yards of today and in former yards that now are part of the Shawnee National Forest.
Others are white with yellow cones and some have double blooms which Martin says are the old-fashioned variety.
"Some with the double blooms almost look like a rose," Martin said.
The double bloom daffodils came from deep in the woods near Rim Rock Recreation Area.
From time to time Martin ponders returning to his medical practice, but knows his hill can monopolize his time with planting and mowing to keep the hedge apple and locust trees at bay.
On the warm days Martin may sit on his deck, watch the vulture soar overhead -- the one with the wing feathers missing. He may stroll through his rows of daffodils, under his flowering plum trees or down to his pond and wait for inspiration to strike.
When inspiration does hit him he sits as his computer and makes an entry on his blog at tompmartin.blogspot.com
In the spring those entries will inevitably include photos and reflections on the flowers on his Daffodil Hill.
"It';s a special time for me every year just to be able to enjoy the spring and watch others enjoy the flowers as much as I do," Martin said.
He has left instructions that upon his death he is to be cremated and Janet is to sprinkle his ashes upon his daffodil beds so they may help to nourish the flowers.
"That';s where my immortality will come from is these daffodils," Martin said.
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