LAFAYETTE -- Greg Moeller's host of golden daffodils, to paraphrase a William Wordsworth poem, have won the longtime Lafayette resident and creator of the "Greg Zone" the city's 2013 Citizen of the Year award.
A truckload of award nominations cited the "exploding color" he sets off by planting thousands of daffodil bulbs in impromptu public gardens each January. His roving garden exploits have added extra "happy" to the area's Happy Valley neighborhoods, residents claim.
A celebratory dinner at the Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa on Friday, March 22 will provide an opportunity to spread the cheer and to see Moeller in fancy get-up.
In an interview after learning he would be "roasted -- which seems about right," Moeller said he plans to appear in something other than the thrift shop sweatshirt and ripped jeans of his trade.
"I drive around in an old, gray GMC pickup truck," he says. "Once, I was offered hubcaps and some money by a guy who thought I was homeless. He said he'd help me out, but he didn't want me to come by his house asking for more. I've been told by more than one person I need to dress up for the celebration."
Moeller laughs, then says the five dogs he often has in the truck's cab probably make him stand out.
"People laugh, because four of them are pretty big," he says.
The dogs are strays, picked up at shelters or off the street, and Moeller is cheerful -- about dogs, about mistaken impressions, really,
At age 52, he's retired from a career in accounting and spends his days helping his family, volunteering with the neighborhood association and gardening.
Growing up in Martinez, he moved to Lafayette when he was 18. An admittedly unmotivated student, Moeller said his family was patient and supportive. Eventually, he attended Diablo Valley College and Saint Mary's College. After several years working as an accountant, he decided to return to SMC for a masters in International Business.
"I have an international business degree and I've never traveled out of the US in my life, Isn't that a kick?" he asked.
Married to Karleen Kawakami, Moeller finds his path to marital bliss equally ironic.
"When we started dating, we were both older adults going back to school, but she was my boss at Citibank. It was awkward ... "
Lamorinda was -- and is -- his world.
"The whole area seems like one neighborhood to me," he said. "From having my head in someone's toilet to planting daffodils in the ground, it's all my neighborhood."
No, that's not a new form of hazing (the toilet part), it's his humorous way of referring to his every-Monday gig, helping nephew Stefano Datitucci run his busy Stefano's Plumbing & Drain business.
"It's hard work," he insists, "harder than gardening. We pull 200-pound machines out of a truck and clear sewers. It's a lot of lifting."
But combined with his Daffodil Bulb project, it might be the perfect way to make friends.
"I've usually been digging in someone's yard or fixing their toilet, so you meet a lot of people that way," he agreed.
This year, he planted 12,852 bulbs, he said, with an accountant's pinpoint accuracy. He bought 8,000 of those bulbs himself; the rest were paid for by the Upper Happy Valley's homeowners association.
"Daffodils are the one flower the deer and squirrels will not touch," he said. "I've been doing it for ten years, since I took over the beautification duties."
Moeller also creates "naturescapes" and birdhouses out of reclaimed redwood, sometimes affixing them to the backs of stop signs.
"Spring is an extra special time, thanks to Greg," one nomination submitter wrote.
"He makes Lafayette a great place to live," another said, in all capital letters.
Moeller, joking that he hopes someone other than his wife shows up at the award diner, said he's just doing what neighbors -- and average citizens -- can do.
"Gosh, just being a nice person and trying to make a difference. Being kind and productive in whatever community you live in. That's citizenship and I'm honored and hope I'm worthy."
WHAT: 'Citizen' dinner
When: Friday, March 22, 6 p.m. (social), 7 p.m. (dinner)
WHERE: Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa, 3287 Mt Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
TICKETS: $59.50, reserve by Tuesday, March 19. Call 925-284-7404 or go to www.lafayette