More Jackson County Opinions...

April 4, 2001

By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
April 4, 2001

A garden without bluebirds? No way!
There are at least two people out there who don't think I write too much about gardening.
"Just ignore these people who chide you about writing too much about gardening," said Betty and Tip Goza. "They don't realize they are missing one of life's greatest pleasures."
One of this old man's pleasures is hearing from faithful readers like the Gozas.
And they aren't even from around here. But they do have close ties to Jefferson and Jackson County. Their son and daughter-in-law, Lee and Jennifer, and their granddaughter, Annie, live on McCreery Road.
And yes, of course, they miss their grandson, Daniel, who was killed in a tragic accident on October 11 last year. But the Gozas take comfort in the knowledge that Daniel was a Christian, and they are getting on with their lives.
Betty and Tip, who live and garden in Gwinnett County, began subscribing to The Jackson Herald to keep up with Daniel and Annie's achievements in academics and sports at Jefferson High School. You can imagine how proud they were when Annie's softball and basketball teams won state championships this year.
They've come to think of The Herald as "one of the best newspapers in the United States. We are aware of the many honors it receives each year. And, of course, we thoroughly enjoy reading your columns and have read them since you wrote for The Atlanta Journal & Constitution."
See why I'm high on the Gozas? They - and you, too, dear other readers - are the inspiration that keeps me doing this every week.
I especially like it when one of you agrees with me. "Your philosophy of gardening (The earth does not belong to me, Feb. 21, 2001) is so true," said Betty and Tip in their recent letter. "As country gardeners, we share your love of the land and what it gives us in return."
"We are thankful to have room for a small garden in our back yard, and for the rain and sun that the Good Lord gives us, and the first sign of life from the seed we have sown. Getting our hands in the soil is therapy for our souls."
You begin to get the idea that Betty and Tip Goza are not your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill gardeners.
"Our little garden rewards us with spinach, all varieties of lettuce, tomatoes of many kinds, succulent Silver Queen corn and crowder peas."
And as you might expect of real gardeners, the Gozas get a lot of pleasure from sharing the fruits of their labor with family, friends and neighbors.
Beautiful as their fresh vegetables are, there are other things in the garden that are even more attractive. They are in my garden, too. And Betty and Tip chided me - well, reminded me - that I left them out of my "philosophy of gardening" column.
"But Virgil," they wrote, "you failed to mention one important ingredient in your garden: the bluebird box."
So I did. And I'm sorry.
Thanks to Bob Freeman, who lives up the street from me, the box at the corner of my garden has been home to two or three families of bluebirds every year for more than a decade.
Bob has built and installed dozens of boxes in and around Jefferson, and has done more than anybody I know to welcome the beautiful little songbirds back to this area.
Betty and Tip Goza are doing the same for Lilburn, Gwinnett County, and the entire state of Georgia. They are publicity chairmen for Bluebirds Over Georgia, organized in 1992 as an affiliate of the North American Bluebird Society. "We work very hard in our Bluebird Recovery Program," they said.
And recovery is necessary. Over the last 50 years, the bluebird population has declined severely. Today, for most people, the little fellow exists only as a colorful adornment on greeting cards.
Bluebirds are in jeopardy primarily because they cannot find enough places to breed. They are among the relatively few cavity-nesting birds - birds that insist on nesting in either natural or artificial enclosures.
Dead trees and wooden fence posts that provided nesting cavities in earlier times are disappearing. And open fields and orchards, habitat conducive to bluebird nesting, are shrinking rapidly.
The Gozas, Freemans and a growing number of other bluebird lovers are reversing this trend by providing the birds with properly made nesting cavities.
Bluebirds Over Georgia has grown to nearly 300 members statewide, and is playing a key role in the recovery program. One reason is because the birds can live in Georgia the year 'round.
The state organization holds a spring festival each spring. The 2001 event will be Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the lower parking area at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 5801 Hugh Howell Road, Stone Mountain.
According to the Gozas, a large variety of bluebird nesting boxes, arts and crafts will be on display. And Bluebirds Over Georgia members will be available to offer information and help to anyone interested in attracting bluebirds.
Tip reminded me that gardeners have multiple reasons to become interested in these little creatures. That they are beautiful is reason enough. "It is a joy to watch them build their nests and lay their eggs, and then wait for the first fledgling (flight) of their babies," he wrote.
But bluebirds not only are beautiful; they are also beneficial. Two-thirds of their diet is made up of insects. "They don't eat our strawberries, figs or scuppernongs," Tip said. "They only want our insects. To a bluebird, a grasshopper is steak and potatoes."
Thanks, Mr. and Mrs, Goza. From now on I will be sure to include bluebirds in my philosophy of gardening.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

By Adam Fouche
The Jackson Herald
April 4, 2001

Splashing into trout fishing
So there I lay. The boots at the bottom of my waders spread in the air. My arms reaching toward the heavens, begging for mercy. My butt and back sitting in less than a foot of water.
For a moment, I felt as if the world had ended. I felt like somehow, I had slipped into a bad dream.
But instead, I had only slipped on a rock, a rock that looked much smaller than it actually was. And there he stood - Dale, my girlfriend's dad. He had seen it all.
Yes, just moments before he had warned me of a slippery rock beneath the running water in a creek in North Georgia. Sure I listened. Maybe I had become arrogant, though, not believing that the water could take me off my feet.
But it did. As I walked near a prime fishing hole, I stepped onto a rock, expecting my foot to slide a little, then catch against the sandy bottom of the creek.
Instead, my foot kept sliding until I had to make a choice between a pulled groin muscle and a fall into the cool water. I choose the latter.
So I threw my body backwards and, in some kind of awkward rolling motion, I hit the water and rolled onto my back. The water filled my waders, soaked my clothes and even settled into the pockets of my jacket.
And I lay there, looking at Dale - not knowing whether to curse, pretend I was hurt badly or laugh. I wanted to laugh. After all, there's nothing funnier than seeing some guy fall into a creek.
But I slowly picked myself up, brushed off the embarrassment and looked around for the pride that I seemed to have lost somewhere in the water.
I was on new turf. I've been a bass fisherman for many years. And as such, I've spent my fair share of time in a boat, fishing coves and points, with little chance of getting soaked.
Actually being in the water was new for me. I had never done it before. In fact, my experience catching trout was limited to some little stocked pond at a mountain getaway.
Trout fishing was a whole new experience for me. I had never waded in the very waters that I would catch fish from. I had certainly never fallen into the water while bass fishing. And I've rarely caught four fish in one outing.
But I did it all on Saturday. And despite my little mishap, it was one of the best fishing trips I've been on in a long time.
I enjoyed standing there in the clear, running water, casting my bait into the rapids hoping for a fish. Occasionally I would glance up at the evergreens on either side of the bank, watching the fog clearing out as the sun rose. It was really cool, especially being able to get away from school and work.
The Great Fall was worth those several hours of good fishing. In fact, the fall was probably good for me - an initiation of sorts into a sport I was just experiencing.
And I'll gladly take the chance to go trout fishing again. Fall or no fall, it won't really matter.
But you can bet that next time I'll choose my rocks a little more wisely. fter all, I'd hate to make a habit of falling.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address is


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