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
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
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
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
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
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.
The Jackson Herald
April 4, 2001
Splashing into trout
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.