Banks County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 18, 2002


Column

By: Jana Adams
The Banks County News
September 18, 2002

What are the dance steps?
One evening in the spring, I saw a young woman, or perhaps a girl, dancing out in her front yard in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I was driving home from work and the evening light was just on the verge of turning to dark. The rain was heavy, the thunder and lightning constant, and there was a girl dancing in the middle of the downpour. I caught just a brief glimpse as I drove past, but it was enough to make me uncertain of what I had seen — a somewhat surreal image, and one that has stuck with me. Did I really see that? Was she really doing ballet?
I have, once or twice in the past, run out into a heavy summer rain just because it was there, almost calling for you to get soaked to the skin. But I never practiced such a formal rain dance.
Now, thinking back on it, I wish I had paid closer attention. Maybe it really was a rain dance. What were the dance steps? Did someone practice them over the weekend to bring on the deluge?
We need them now because, despite welcome rain here and there, the drought damage is long-standing.
A friend at work was saying Thursday that, with the turn in the weather to on-the-verge-of-fall, she’d like to be at home working in her yard.
Oh, I said, surprised, is anything living there?
Well, she admitted, not really. All the flowers are dying.
And my grass is totally brown, I added, the only benefit being that I haven’t brought the lawn mower out in months. (All brown, that is, with the exception of the embarrassing jungle patch over the septic tank that, alone in the arid desert, is flourishing, and which I have let go until it will now require a machete in hand to get it under control.)
Everything else is brown. Brown grass, browning leaves, brown trickle of water in the creek. Some of that will change after three days of rain; I probably will have to bring out the lawn mower again soon. But some of the damage is final. Sadly, the tiny maple tree my father planted alongside the two that shade the house is also brown, and the weekend’s rain is too late to save it. I am not alone in this brownness, of course, it is the years of drought catching up with us all.
When I hear about the low level of the reservoir, of wells going dry, of serious restrictions on water use, I wonder what will happen to us in the future, when there are more and more people, more and more homes and more and more demands on water, of which there is not necessarily going to be more and more, indefinitely. Recycled and reuse water will be the wave of the future, if it’s not already here, I guess.
I have heard people at meetings who do not want to follow water restrictions which, yes, are still in place despite the weekend of rain. They may be concerned because their expensively landscaped yards might dry up, or for some reason or another, and I wonder, is water an exclusive commodity, a privilege for some and not for others? If not, it might be one day.
The September 12 United States Department of Agriculture drought map shows north Georgia in the brown, with shadings to represent the rates in the severe, extreme and exceptional drought ranges, and with drought impacting agriculture, water levels and wildfire risk. However, on a more positive note, the USDA does predict some drought improvements as we ease into November.
Maybe some rain dances would bring on continuing showers, help ease the drought conditions.
I haven’t seen that girl dancing in her yard again. Maybe her dance was one of celebration. Perhaps she pirouetted in the downpour on Saturday.
I’d dance, wouldn’t you, if you could bring on some slow, soothing showers when we needed them?
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

Column

By: Phillip Sartain
T
he Banks County News
September 18, 2002

The ugly Georgian
There are many difficulties associated with traveling to another country. A lot of them are serious—like being mistaken for a spy or accidentally starting a war. Over the last several years, I have been able to avoid most of the problem areas. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not liable to cause an international incident at any time.
For the most part, the rules that apply to traveling overseas aren’t all that different from the rules for traveling around Georgia. Certain things apply across the board: drive on the correct side of the road, don’t yell “Go Dawgs” at a crowded soccer match, and take your time when deciding which bathroom is for men and which is for women.
But more important than knowing which restroom to use, it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of the American Rules Of Language. That’s where I think I ran into trouble on my most recent trip to Spain.
Initially, I was functioning fairly well in my new environment. But then I got up one morning and called the front desk to make a simple request, “I need an iron and an ironing board.” My request was met with a questioning sound in another language.
As a general rule, talking loudly to someone who doesn’t speak your language doesn’t really help. Even so, it is the first of the American Rules and it is as inevitable as the sun rising. It has something to do with a little known language theory that suggests that the “language barrier” can be broken down by gradually increasing the volume of one’s voice.
The lady on the other end ignored my mindless yelling and insisted on responding in her native tongue. She obviously had no interest in breaking down the language barrier because she never raised her own voice. As a result, neither of us could understand what was being said by the other.
I tried again, and this time I not only shouted, but I also slowed my speech down under a secondary language theory that states that if someone doesn’t speak your language, you can slow it down for them and they will somehow be able to absorb what you are saying through their skin. I gave it a shot, “I ... need... an... iron... and... a... board ... please.”
At that point, there was much discussion in the background. It was almost as if an entire committee had been formed to decipher my speech patterns. I waited patiently for my simple need to be absorbed into their bloodstream and to travel to their collective brains. After a moment, a new voice came on the line.
“Yes,” the new voice said eagerly. At last, I thought, someone who can understand my language.
“I would like an iron and a board in my room,” I offered.
“Yes?” was the questioning response.
Trying to be helpful, I resorted to the third and last of the American Language Shortcuts. In other words, I added the letter “o” to the end of each word, “I want-o an iron-o in my room-o.” Surely, they would be dazzled, I thought-o.
In response there was an animated discussion in the background until finally the same pleasant voice returned to the line and asked, “You wish potatoes with your order?”
At that point, I realized that there were some essential flaws with the language theories that I had been using and that there was a great chance that I was on the verge of an international incident resulting in permanent imprisonment in a dungeon. All things considered, I felt as though it was best if I avoided such.
“Yes, potatoes would be fine.” I answered.
As it turned out, the potatoes were delicious. And in the end, wearing wrinkled clothes for the rest of the trip wasn’t all that big a deal. It was the least I could do for global harmony.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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