The Banks County News
February 14, 2001
Life below the gnatline
Being from North Georgia, I consider any trip below Atlanta to
be risky. Years ago, attending my brother's graduation in Macon
in 95 degree temperatures, I almost fainted from heat stroke.
So did the little old lady I nudged out of the way so I could
get a better share of the shade.
Recently, however, I've made several trips below the gnatline.
Suddenly I have found a newfound respect for Georgians to the
south. More important, I've learned respect for their insects.
Our first visit was to the coastal village of Darien. Before
touring the town, our hostess gave us a blue, cloth-like material
and said, "Wear this like a bandanna. It'll keep the bugs
"This looks like a fabric softener strip," I pointed
"The bugs can't stand it," she smiled.
Outside, I told my wife, "This is probably how they warn
locals that aliens are present."
"But maybe it works," she cautioned.
"Fine, you wear it. Just don't give me away."
We quickly happened upon Fort King George, an early coastal fortification
erected by the British. It's hard to imagine a more inhospitable
place. My conclusion was borne out by the demonstration that
began just as we arrived.
Seeing those park service employees parading around in authentic
wool garments, in humidity as heavy as lead, made me question
the sanity of my ancestors. But, after a few minutes, I realized
the importance of wearing heavy clothing in the summer. As we
stood and watched the presentation, we became victims of pelting
While these vicious bugs bounced off the wool garments of the
play-actors, my wife and I stood like lambs at the slaughter.
Within a matter of moments, we both were doing the mysterious
"Dance of King George," weaving, hopping, waving, swinging,
hooting, howling and chanting, all at the same time.
The other spectators, wearing blue strips on their heads, began
to watch us instead of the demonstration. They were still applauding
as we jumped in the car and sped away.
Later in the day, we came upon General Oglethorpe's abortive
colony, Fort Frederica, on St. Simon's Island. Upon entering,
we discovered that the day's deer fly warning was set on "Moderate."
What's a deer fly?" my wife asked.
"Beats me. But how bad can it be?" I said.
"I don't know. I'm from the mountains. I don't understand
all these bug thingies."
Deer flies, as it turns out, are a little more aggressive than
your garden-variety insect. They're sneakier, too. I was reading
one of the tour plaques when I heard a strange whimpering sound.
Turning around, I saw my wife stumbling toward the woods. "What
are you doing?" I demanded.
"The bugs have me," she wailed.
"I'll get help," I yelled. Bolting for the car, I grabbed
the picnic basket.
"Let her go! Take these fat balony sandwiches instead."
The insects hesitated. "She's stringy and tough. It'll hurt
your stingers." I tossed the basket into the woods. I heard
a thump, and turned to find my wife on the ground, dusty and
"They're gone," I consoled her.
"I'm not stringy and tough," she pouted at me.
"I know. I only said that to save your life."
At the welcome center, the rangers seemed bored by our report.
"Awww, they wouldn't have hurt her."
I was amazed. "What happens when the warning is 'Severe'?"
"It's not much different. Half the bugs make potato salad
and cole slaw, while the other half get the charcoal ready."
He shrugged. "It's no big deal, really. You get used to
That night, speeding back to North Georgia, I thought about the
colony at Fort Frederica dwindling to nothing in a few short
years. Is it any wonder? I thought. They were all carried off
to the woods by ravenous bugs.
You have to respect folks that live below that gnatline. They
have a lot of grit and determination. Either that, or a giant
box of fabric softener.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
The Banks County
February 14, 2001
Paisley deserving of Opry honor
Brad Paisley will officially join a host of country stars as
a member of the Grand Ole Opry in a special ceremony Saturday
night. It is fitting that this talented singer, songwriter and
musician join other country music greats as a member of the Opry.
It is also a plus for the thousands of fans who go to the Opry
each year. You never know when Brad may show up on the line-up.
I was fortunate to see Brad make a surprise appearance on the
Opry during a family holiday vacation Dec. 22. I have been enjoying
his album, "Who Needs Pictures," for some time now
and was glad to see a live performance. Unfortunately, I was
at a state newspaper convention last year when he performed at
Bill Anderson's annual City Lights concert in Commerce, so I
was glad he made a surprise apperance at the Opry.
Brad didn't disappoint the fans as he gave beautiful renditions
of two favorites, including "Silent Night."
For those of you not familiar with Brad's work, it's a great
mix of songs that make you laugh out loud and get "teary-eyed.o"
He wrote, or co-wrote, all of the songs except for one and they
touch on a wide range of emotions.
The romantic songs filled with heartache that many will identify
with include "I've Got It Made," "Who Needs Pictures,"
"Don't Breathe" and "Holding On To You."
A song for all of the romantic hopefuls out there is "We
Dance," which has received the most radio play from the
album. It kind of makes me want to start leaving my purse somewhere.
What woman doesn't melt with sentiments like, "There was
no doubt...I'd found the one I always dreamed about...The music
played. We held each other close. We danced like no one else
had ever danced before." Now, where did I leave my purse....
Those songs that make me smile, and even laugh out loud, are:
"Sleeping on the Foldout," "Long Sermon,"
"Me Neither" and "He Didn't Have To Be."
Just listen to any of them any time you need a good laugh. They
have some hysterical lyrics.
Brad often speaks publicly about his faith, which is so refreshing.
His version of "In the Garden" really is inspirational.
It is a perfect theme song for all of us: "He walks with
me and He talks to me and He tells me I am His own. The joy we
share as we tarry there none other has ever known." Just
singing along lifts my spirits.
He also touches on faith in "Cloud of Dust," which
is about a West Texas farmer "praying for rain through a
cloud of dust."
The album also features an instrumental number, "Nervous
Breakdown," that makes me want to pull my old clogging shoes
out from the back of the closet. Although, while I could have
kept up with the fast pace at 10 years old, it might be more
As you can see, Brad Paisley has a great mix in "Who Needs
Pictures." I can't wait to check out his next album, which
is reportedly already in the works.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate
editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.