Viewpoints: Susan Larson
It was a true joy to meet Mother Nature. With all the bustling going about at Girl Scout Camp, she was tucked away in a corner of the park, surrounded by vases of hydrangeas and herbs freshly cut from her garden. A stone plaque wedged among her flower pots reminded visitors that "Life began in a garden."
For 23 years, Mother Nature has revealed herself here, showing Scouts the role she plays in whatever their camp theme happens to be. This year it was the Renaissance. Mother Nature used books to illustrate everything from medieval medicine to castle construction.
In years past, Mother Nature revealed her role through themes like Hawaii, Rainforests and Up, Up and Away, which explored the sky. With the theme Red, White and Blue, she showcased all the natural wonders in this great land.
Though Scouts know her only as Mother Nature, for the other 51 weeks of the year, this woman - whose real life name is Marilyn Rushin and whose real-life residence is in Norcross - blossoms under other names.
"Like 'rushin' out the door,'" she says with a laugh. It's hard to imagine someone so calm and composed ever rushin' anywhere, even though she seems to be just about everywhere all the time.
"My day starts at 5:45. I walk and run five miles in Lilburn Park, then go to work at Hopkins Elementary School. I've been their receptionist for 25 years. There they call me Queen," she said.
Rushin is also always running in the Peachtree Road Race. "This will be my 29th year. I haven't missed once."
At Lilburn First Baptist Church, where she's known as the hat lady, she's led Bible studies, served as a greeter and conducted a shut-in ministry for decades.
"I've never been out of the country. My mission is here."
Rushin is firmly rooted in all aspects of her life - just yesterday she celebrated "39 years being married to the same man." And that well-established family life includes two children, and two grandchildren who call her GG.
But even with such a wide variety of identities, she's still best known as Mother Nature.
"Every time I go out shopping, little kids say, 'Look, Mommy, there's Mother Nature.' And even grown women who remember me 23 years ago still know me by that name," Rushin said.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.