By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 19, 2004
In Honor of the Living
Theres another reason why Gov. Sonny Perdue had to call our distinguished legislators back for a special session. True, they spent a lot of time trying to save my marriage and my religion. The last time I checked, Im still married and am still a Methodist in fair standing, but Im not giving any member of the Georgia General Assembly any of the credit. The credit is due Shirley Gentry, Hulon Hill and Johnny Ray, and God. (Yes, I know, I should put God first.)
In addition to wasting a lot of time trying to legislate morals (which is impossible), our honorable congresspersons (it would be politically incorrect to call them men) and senators wasted precious hours naming stuff for politicians and supporters who have gone on to their rewards, and that is the other reason they had to be called back.
I hate to tell them this, but all of that manmade stuff they put a human name on aint gonna last. Keep that in mind if you aspire to have something named for you down here. Tis better to be remembered up there.
I dont care what it is - Interstate highway, U.S. highway, State highway, intersection, street, bridge, alley, culvert or pig patch - it is temporary. It may last longer than you do, but one day it will be gone, too, and by that time it is doubtful anybody - if anybodys left - will remember that your name was on it.
If it is manmade, it is doomed. I dont want to be morbidly depressing here; Im just telling it like it is. Historical preservation societies may preserve these earthly treasures for a season, but one day - perhaps in the twinkling of an eye - they will perish.
It took hundreds of years to build the Great Wall of China, and it has been standing since around 206 BC. One day it will crumble. It took a lot less time to build the World Trade Center, and it was reduced to ashes in a day. What goes up must come down.
What will be next?
As you read this, I will be fishing down at Clarks Hill. Ill be honest with you; every time Im in my little manmade boat on that huge manmade reservoir, I wonder about that huge manmade dam upstream. Could it be next?
I know one thing: if that dam breaks while Im fishing, itll be one heck of a ride down the Savannah River to the Atlantic Ocean. I could wind up in Africa.
You think Im kidding, right? Of course I am. You think Im serious, right? Of course I am.
Why do I write this stuff?
Ill be honest with you - again. I have to fill this space with something. I should have said I have the opportunity, and I am very thankful. This weekly column is my therapy. I guess Im confessing that I do it more for me than for you. Greedy? Yes. It really does mean a lot to me. I have no idea what it means to you - if anything. I am aware that some who started reading this one didnt get this far. I thank you for hanging with me - so far.
You see, Im still trying to figure out what life - especially mine - is all about. Ive been here nearly 81 years and still dont know what Im supposed to be doing. Right now my calling is to write the next sentence, which is:
I am a lot like my young friend Jim Bryan, head of the art department up at Jefferson High School. Jim told me one time, I cannot not paint.
Well, I cannot not write - or try to. This weekly column is all Im doing right now. Oh, I occasionally think about the book I have been working on for over 60 years, but thats all Im doing - thinking. I guess I would get with it if I were motivated by money and wasnt lazy.
I dont garden anymore. Dont do much of anything anymore. Walk four miles a day. Burn 200 calories. Come home and eat 400.
Im busy, but at the end of the day I cant put my finger on anything Ive accomplished. Get tired quicker. Go to bed earlier. Seldom stay with a Braves game through nine innings.
Think about going back to school. Yes, Im serious. Id make a much better student now, at 80, than I was at 17. The fact that I dropped out of high school and joined the Navy in 1941 tells you what kind of student I was back then.
I admit that a lifestyle such as mine is rather hectic and uncertain. But it does have one advantage. It keeps you from taking thought for tomorrow.
Speaking of 1941, I was interested in a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a couple of weeks ago about the World War II Memorial in Washington. Reporter Bob Dart wrote that members of The Greatest Generation are dying at the rate of 1,056 a day. Fewer than 4 million of the 16 million Americans who served in uniform during World War II will be alive for the official dedication of the Memorial this month, he said.
Why am I one of the 4 million still standing? Why wasnt I killed in the accident last July that took my mother-in-law?
People tell me Im still here for a purpose. To say that Im here to write the next sentence seems a bit frivolous. However, that is the next thing Im called to do, and so I guess I should look upon that as the most improtant task of my life - right now. Were I to be distracted by some other calling, Id really mess up.
Some folks are so organized, so programmed, that they know what they will be doing next week, next month, next year and forever. Their call was clear, and getting off track is not an option.
I have been called, too. I believe everybody has. But my caller hasnt told me what to do next week, next month, or next year. My calling isnt even day to day. It is minute by minute. Lets see? Oh, the next sentence.
This rather silly journey began with me fussing about the Legislature naming stuff for some dead people instead of tending to more important business. If we are going to honor anybody for anything, lets do it while they are still breathing and standing upright. Lets pin a rose on their lapel while they can still see it and smell it.
I may be wrong, but I believe our motive for honoring someone after they are dead is to cover our guilt for not honoring them while they were alive.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.
By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
May 19, 2004
Savoring The Smells Of Spring
The smell of honeysuckle has got to be one of the best on the planet. Mid-to-late spring in the south, you can be walking along unawares on your way somewhere, and suddenly you realize youre downwind from it, in the middle of a slow moving stream of honeysuckle parts per million, and you have to stop to breath it, find where it comes from, or at least slow down to linger in the current. Its hard to think of those encounters without smiling.
Maybe that surprise is the most important part of what I like about honeysuckle. Youre not expecting anything especially nice, not deserving of any particular treat, and there it is anyway.
On the other hand, back in March, we had a mental map of all the Bradford pears in town, and we knew ahead of time to park our cars an extra space away, or upwind, or to at least walk a little faster when passing one. Bradford pears are nice enough trees most of the year, and even in early spring from a distance, but what is the biological function of that smell? Offhand, I cant think of a single pollinating insect that is known for its tendency to seek out armpits.
Another smell I dont like much is that overly sweet wisteria odor. The purple blossoms hanging make me think of a batch of grape Kool Aid mixed up with twice the sugar called for on the package. Im also not a big fan of wisteria for non-olfactory related reasons, so I guess Ive got a preconceived notion whenever spring rolls around. Ive seen wisteria strangle the trees it uses to climb, and Ive seen it hoist a rusty bed frame five feet off the ground on its way to grabbing the low-hanging limb of an oak. To me, wisterias not much more than glorified kudzu, and I cant let that thought go when I catch a whiff of those flowers.
Roses are nice, and irises, camellias, and daylilies, too. One of my favorite flowers when I lived in Tennessee was the dwarf iris, because you would almost always spot patches of it this time of year on a hike. Camellias make me think of Georgia, and Thomasville, where I was born. In our yard, we have some great daylilies from my grandmothers house, and a small but prolific rose bush that was also a gift.
The catch with those flowers, the fragrant ones anyway, is that if you smell them, you probably intended to smell them. You saw the flower, walked up to it, and gave it a good sniffing or at least a good long look. With honeysuckle, whose blossoms look like orange sherbet splattered on green, the aroma finds you.
I recently tried to get our 3-year-old Jack to suck the nectar from a honeysuckle blossom like we did when I was a kid. He looked at me like I was trying to talk him into eating three bunches of spinach, so I treated myself. After pulling the bottom off carefully like I was taught, I tasted what I could, which wasnt quite as much as I remembered. I guess Im with Jack. I much prefer that honeysuckle smell.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.