Banks County Opinions...

OCTOBER 8, 2003


By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
October 8, 2003

When a sister marries ...
Saturday my little sister married her sweetheart after seven years together. The event was over a year in the planning yet the last month was still filled with last minute harey carey. But there seemed to be something different about this particular wedding, at least to me. My last hurried word from my sister was Friday morning as she was setting up things for her rehearsal dinner and wedding. She was quite panicked and wanted me to run over, though I regret to say I didn't. I figured I would hear about it Friday night. But she was a completely different bride than the one I had talked down from the edge of insanity throughout the summer. She was so in love. Whats more, and this is the unbelievable part, she was so unconcerned with how things would turn out the next day. She didn't fret about rain or the florist. She just held hands with her fiancé, grinning from ear to ear in a sleeveless dress, offering her shawl to her bridesmaids who were freezing in the cold October evening. She glowed in a way I can remember warmly. That catch in the pit of your belly which makes you feel as though you could laugh and laugh until happiness consumes your entire body. The way you feel when you just want to hug harder and harder until you realize you can't squeeze as hard as you can love. It is joy just to be around that kind of happiness.
And she floated from the rehearsal effortlessly into her wedding day. Taking no time to sit and fret. She was there and Bucky was there and those were all the details she really cared about. The time for pictures came and went with none of us ready, but it didn't matter to her and we walked down the aisle on time.
The event was perfect; in retrospect, details that didn't quite cement are forgotten. The whole thing reeked of my sister and new brother. They married at The Lodge on Apple Pie Ridge Road in Alto, which is a large log home with breathtaking views of the North Georgia mountains from its balconies and porches. Everything is open and fresh, both in the lodge and out. And while a log lodge is rustic by the very definition, it was also elegant. The mountains and Georgia are both important to them so it was an ideal location. The Georgia game was on discreetly in one of the bedrooms so people could walk in and out, checking the score, while eating all of Bucky and April's favorite foods. And she danced the leather right off the soles of her shoes.
But my frame of mind was different at this wedding-I expected joy, but also sorrow. It's a big point you measure your life by: before you married and after; and it's a wake-up call to anyone who watched the last 20 or so years pass by without realizing how grown-up and different someone has become. But I felt no sadness at my sister's wedding and I think I know why. She will always be my baby sister, the one I laughed with, dreamed with and loved. The one who would knock timidly on my door to ask if she could sleep with me in the bed we had shared for 10 years before my parents bought the bigger house. There are a thousand late nights and crazy days when it was us against the world or just one pesky little brother. And that will never change. To many we will always be collectively named The Girls despite having grown up and married.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
October 8, 2003

The Great Bear, Jack Frost and chlorophyll

Hints of fall color are just becoming visible in this area, with a tree here and there dotted with some red, orange or yellow.
Is it the early work of Jack Frost, tiptoeing through the forest with paintbrush in hand?
Or maybe it's the Great Bear's blood dripping down from the heavens.
Or possibly Mother Nature has been gliding through the woods again, gathering up her green cloth and tossing a dash of yellow here, a sprinkling of red there and a purple way over there.
Of course, a chemical reaction is what really causes leaves to change colors in the fall - very simply put, less sunlight and cooler weather means less chlorophyll, means less green, means other colors show up more....
But some of the legends and folklore about the fall of the year are interesting, I think.
A Native American legend has it that celestial hunters and their dogs chased the magical Great Bear across the sky. When the hunters caught the bear, its blood fell to the earth, covering some of the trees with red. As the hunters cooked the bear, some of its fat splashed from the kettle and fell to earth, covering other trees in yellow. (A different version has it that the fat fell to earth, covering the ground in white.)
The Great Bear comes back to life each year and the hunt is on again in the fall.
The constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear) includes the stars commonly known as the Big Dipper. Some say the Great Bear's shape is the bowl of the dipper, while the hunters and their dogs make up the line of the dipper's handle.
In a somewhat similar vein, another story has it that Ursa Major comes down from the sky to walk through the forests, leaving a trail of color behind.
A Cherokee legend tells of the early days of the world, when only plants and animals lived on earth. The Great Spirit promised eternal color and "power of the night" to those able to stay awake for seven days and seven nights.
Only a few succeeded and those trees, like the pine and cedar, remain green year-round as others shed their leaves and sleep through winter. Owls and mountain lions were among those given "power of the night" and allowed to prowl and wander in the dark.
Other stories of the fall describe Jack Frost painting the leaves, or Mother Nature scattering color about.
Whatever the reason, we are now at the turning point - the month of October - before the time changes and darkness arrives early, when the days are beautifully blue-skied and the trees are beginning to be dappled with color.
According to a "fall forecast," this year's color may be pretty spectacular because of the rainier than usual summer and the less frequent rainfall and cooler temperatures of early fall.
While the leaves have probably already passed their peak or are there now in New England, the "peak weeks" for north Georgia are still ahead. The fall foliage forecast calls for the third week of October to be peak in the Clayton area and surroundings; for the leaf color to be strongest the last week in October from Clayton down nearly to Gainesville and across toward Chattanooga; and for the prime colors to reach their peak in early November from Gainesville and west; and for Athens to Atlanta to Rome to see brightest color in November.
Maybe it's time to plan an excursion to the mountains - or, if you wait a couple of weeks, to sit back and enjoy fall's colors at home.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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