Banks County Opinions...

May 9, 2001


Column
By Angela Gary
The Banks County News
May 9, 2001

A day at the lake
Donald and Daffy hang out together. They swim around the lake, occasionally getting out to waddle around its banks. Occasionally, the small guys try to hang out with the bigger, more elegant, geese with their long necks and superior attitude.
The geese tend to snub the smaller ducks, but they sure do stick close together. The geese are most always in a straight line. They swim across the lake in a straight line, so close that the paddling feet of one are in the face of another. They get out of the lake in their straight line and walk around in it. I wonder if the same one is the leader all the time? No way to tell since they look just alike.
I can spend hours watching the geese. They are funny and so pretty. They suddenly poke their entire head and neck deep into the water, causing small waves in the calm lake. They quickly stick their beaks into the lake and along its side in search of food. If you throw out bread or other food, they hurry over and peck at it until it's all gone.
If wild birds or ducks dare to try and stop at the lake in the woods, they go crazy. You hear honking like you've never heard before. They even take to the air and fly quickly across the lake to scare away the wild birds. If any person or other animal, such as a dog comes up, they are also likely to begin honking as loud as possible.
On Friday, I spent a peaceful, quiet day alone at the lake in our woods. It was good to get away and do nothing. My pile of books and magazines lay untouched beside of me as I soaked up not only the sun, but the natural sights around me. The ducks and geese aren't all there is to enjoy.
The "shop cats" can be spotted running in the woods. They are the three cats in my dad's shop that I care for when they get sick and stop to pet and talk to when I go by. The dog, Dixie, the latest animal to join the family, makes me laugh out loud when she jumps in the lake to cool off and get a drink of water. She then runs over shaking the water off and nudges me until I pet her and talk to her. At meal time, it's funny to see her grab my scraps and run off to hide them. I kept telling her that I wouldn't take them back, but I guess she's used to being at the shop with three cats and hiding her food from them. She digs a hole in the ground, slips a piece of bread in it and neatly covers it. I wonder how she will remember where it is later. Animals really are amazing.
When the sun gets too hot, I slip into the small cabana to have lunch, cool off and watch television. Soon, I'm back on the deck soaking up the sun. The sun sets much quicker than I would have liked and my day at the lake comes to a close, but I still don't want to leave. My parents stop by to see if I want to go out and eat. I can't tear myself away from the peace and quiet of the lake in the woods. When dark comes, I finally leave, but I know I'll return again soon to wash away the stresses of everyday life and enjoy nature.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By Todd C. Simons
The Banks County News
May 9, 2001

The golfing nun
I learned to play golf from a nun.
I don't mean that to sound so much like a confession, but every skill I had on the golf course came from two sources: hours of playing every week and Sister Catherine.
Sister Catherine was an individual like no other I've met. She was, of course, religious. She was a nun. But she found that in the midst of absolute religious devotion that she was also committed to golf. She was committed enough to golf to take a hiatus from the nunnery and try her game on the Ping tour in Arizona. She didn't stay on the tour, but she did become the Ladies Pro at the course where I worked while I was in high school.
I had never met a nun before and don't know that I have since. Catholics didn't grow on trees in the Protestant South of my youth. There was one Catholic church in the town I grew up in, but I can only recall knowing one Catholic family. I don't think they even played golf.
I only played golf for about three years. I started playing when I began working at the golf course. My job there was to drive the caged golf cart with the ball-picking contraption attached up and down the driving range to collect the balls. I then took them back to the shop and put them into a ball-washing machine that delivered the balls via gravity to the ball bin inside the store. Frequently, I had time to take a bucket of balls and a club or two and hit balls out into the grassy field.
Catherine must have been watching, because one day when she finished giving a lesson she turned to me and said, "Let me show you a few things."
I didn't know how bad I was. I played rounds when it rained because I got off work and the regular players fled the links for cover. The cart boys hit the course. When it rained, the course was ours. No one was out there to rush us. No old guys taking 20 minutes to line up putts. We would each play three balls and chop them toward the hole until they landed on the green. I putted like a hockey player.
Catherine taught me what a good swing was. I had been given some good pointers by my father about how to swing, but his understanding of the golf swing wasn't complete enough to explain it fully. Catherine brought the swing to its basics. Arms straight. Knees bent. Back straight. Pull the club back like a pendulum and break the wrist at the top. Then swing gently. "If done right your club face will meet the ball just where you started," she'd say.
The first lesson was simple, but after that whenever we were both free I'd ask her to watch my swing. Soon I didn't slice unless I wanted to slice. I slowed down my swing so that I hit the ball solid, straight and far. I spent Sunday afternoons in the clubhouse with her and other golfers listening to them talk about the swings of the pros. Everyone was in training; there were no fans.
This didn't last long. Eventually Catherine moved back to Arizona or California. Just before she left, Ping flew her out for some testing session. I think they played high-priced courses with high-priced clubs. Catherine came back after that trip. She had bought a new car but she often talked about the life she left behind.
I was never sure whether she left to join the tour or to go back to the convent. I never heard from her again and soon quit playing golf.
I went to college; she went to God or golf.
Todd C. Simons is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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