More Jackson County Opinions...

JUNE 26, 2002


Column
By: Roshelle Beckstein
The Jackson Herald
June 26, 2002

Curl up with a good book
I had been waiting for weeks for the book to come. With my fast-pace life always doing, doing, doing, I ordered it one morning while I checked email. Just entered my membership ID, point and click. Bill me because I’m not giving you my credit card number and I don’t have time to look for my wallet anyway. I lost it somewhere between the truck and my desk here in the office or maybe Piper grabbed it and pulled all of my receipts out before hiding it under a box somewhere. Click rush shipment but it really won’t be rushed. It will be nearly a month before the book reaches my front door but that won’t stop me from anxiously searching the front stoop before I park my car in the driveway for the 22 days before the book arrives and then it doesn’t even sit on the front stoop because the mail carrier managed to fit it inside the mailbox and I almost had to wrestle it out of Eric’s hands because he checks the mail and he knew that once I got my hand on it I would read it until I had finished it. And I did.
What made waiting the 22 days even worse is that the book came out in stores on June 1. And it was the last book in a trilogy. I had been waiting a year since the first book was released to finish the three books. And then I had to wait an additional 22 days for Doubleday to process my order. UGH! I wanted to just buy a second copy. I go on the author’s website frequently and I get her fan letters so I know that all three books were written before the first book was even published. Why do they make us wait so long? Marketing ploy. I’m hooked no matter when they release the books. I’ll buy. Hook, line and sinker. I think I’ll draft a letter to the publishing house.
I almost don’t like to read a book for the first time because it’s a rushed sort of reading. You want to know the whole story so badly that you skip through the descriptions, reading them but not really absorbing them. Read it through once completely for the plot. The whole time your stomach is a mass of butterflies as you wait to find out whether good wins over evil, whether the guy gets the girl and whether it’s still safe in the world for idealists. (Some day I’m going to write a book without that happy ever after ending just to shake people up a bit, no use being predictable all of your life, someone has to be non-conformist.) Until the last page is read my entire being is held in suspense, waiting for the last page, and no you can’t just skip to the end, you have to follow through one page at a time. It’s like going on that first date or to an important job interview and it’s sheer agony as you sit there wondering how is this going to end. Will it change my life? Because books can change your life. It’s a whole other world that you get to be a part of for as long as you’re in the pages. And you take a part of that world with you when you finish the pages. Lessons learned. You like that person because she gave money to charity, maybe you should be more like her. That woman was too suspicious of everyone and she pushed people away, maybe you should trust those you love and give strangers the benefit of the doubt.
I love books. Always have. Ruined my eyes because I read under the covers with a flashlight after my parents would turn the lights out. My sister, who shared a room with me, can still sleep with a light shining on her eyes.
So I finally finished the trilogy. I think I’ll read it again today. Right after I finish writing this.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 26, 2002

The memory worth a million
Just because I’ve quit gardening doesn’t mean I’ve quit thinking about it. Remembering it. Reminiscing.
Friends are helping the process. I meet an old gardening buddy. I know he is an old gardening buddy because he doesn’t say hello. He doesn’t ask about the family. He doesn’t inquire about my health. He doesn’t comment on the weather.
“How does your garden grow?” Those are his first words.
I hold up four fingers and say, “I have four tomato plants.”
This puzzled, unbelieving, questioning look comes over his face.
“That’s all?”
“That’s all.”
Sadly, he confesses he ain’t the gardener he used to be, either. Then we spend the next hour or so remembering and reminiscing about how it used to be.
I can’t even go to Byrd’s coffee club anymore without being reminded of how it used to be. Darnell Road, the new courthouse and the county commissioners have been relegated to the back burner. They are being upstaged by gardening talk. It’s show and tell time all over town.
I have in front of me a visual aid that goes back nearly a quarter of a century. Henry Asbury brought it to the club a couple of weeks ago. It is a faded, yellowed, tattered clipping from the Saturday, July 15, 1978, edition of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. It is a reminder that not only do old gardeners remember; friends of old gardeners remember, too.
I doubt that many of you—not even the old gardeners—recall the story. Some of you were not even born when it was written. It chronicled one of the most unusual—and happiest—experiences in a gardening career that began as a kid following in Daddy and Granddaddy’s footsteps and now, some 70 years later, is finally winding down.
In 1978, Region’s Bank downtown was The First National Bank of Jefferson, and Henry Asbury was president. In July of that year, Henry gave me a million dollars worth of mulch, and I thought the least I could do was tell the world about it. I believe it’s worth telling again.
Got the mulch from the bank. Had it delivered. By the president, yet.
I hesitated a long time before using it around my plants and probably wouldn’t have put it down when I did if Mary hadn’t been bugging me about it.
And if Tanny hadn’t pulled some out of the bags and made a bed. (My ol’ dog Clarence—Lord rest his soul—would have really had a good time in it.)
And if Gene’s kittens hadn’t been scattering it all over the place.
And if the chipmunks hadn’t started using it for a maternity ward.
And if the mice hadn’t started eyeing it from around the corner.
I seriously considered trying to put the stuff back together. You know, like a puzzle. Then I would have known the financial history and status of just about everybody in Jackson County.
You see, the mulch was shredded bank notes.
Henry called me one day and asked if I wanted it. He drives by my place two or three times a day, and I am always out there putting something in or on my garden soil.
Said he had six or eight bags. I said, “Heck yeah, I want it.” Word had gotten around that us real gardeners “ain’t never had” enough compost.
Well, Henry brought six or eight bags the first day, six or eight bags the second day, six or eight bags the third day...
And Mary said, “That’s enough.”
I had filled the boat. I had filled the tool shed. And I was bout to overflow the garbage with shredded bank notes.
One thing about the First National Bank of Jefferson back in those days. There was no paper shortage. Or wasn’t until the president unloaded it all on me.
Which reminds me: I must go out there and look at that stuff more closely to see if any green got in there by mistake.
Don’t know if my soil will be any richer for having digested shredded bank notes. Probably won’t be any more affluent than if I had fed it old newspaper.
Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how prosperous my strawberries are next spring.
I did learn one thing—the wind can blow shredded bank notes about as fast as I can blow real money. I was about to lose it all until my friend Robert Hill came by and started wetting and weighting it down with water.
Then I put a thin layer of pine straw on top to hold it down permanently.
Several weeks passed and I didn’t see the first weed coming up through it. I ran my hand down through the pine needles and paper and fingered the soil. Cool, man, cool! And moist!
I had just one problem. The darn blue jays and robins were pulling the shreds out and flying off with them to mulch their nests.
Just goes to prove, I guess, that even the birds know a good thing when they see it.
“1 Million Mulch In Garden Is Worth Its Weight In Gold” was the headline over the story 24 years ago. The shredded bank notes have long since decomposed and become a part of the soil. But my memory of them is priceless.
Thanks, Henry, for keeping an old gardener’s remembering and reminiscing process alive.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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