So our host planet has once again completed a full orbit around the nearest star.
While not much changed as far as time and space is concerned during Earth’s latest trip around the sun (it rotated on its axis 365 times and remained 93,000,000 miles from the incredible source of light and heat), things were anything but ordinary in my little corner of the world. Looking back at what I experienced during 2010, I’d have to say it was a very memorable year.
But the final third was something I’ll always view as special. To say I’ve enjoyed spending that time as a member or your local news team would be a major understatement.
Meeting the people who have been the subject of stories, finding out what constitutes their story and then putting it all into words has been more a pleasure than an assignment. Thanks to input from folks I’ve crossed paths with during my journey along the local journalistic yellow brick road, I now know more than I knew there was to know about a number of issues, organizations and situations around Texas County.
And the wealth of historic knowledge I’ve been exposed has allowed me to make some sense of a pretty good chunk of the sociological puzzle that makes up the current version of this area. Basically, I have in four months compiled far greater insight about this community than I had in my previous four years here.
Every day has truly been a blessing from the Lord and I’m constantly looking forward to what will happen next. I really do feel amazed and humbled by all that my eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my brain has processed in such a short time.
Recalling some of what I was part of not only reminds me of the way moments felt, but also allows me to measure – to some extent – the amount of wisdom I gained as a result of absorbing so much local knowledge.
In no particular order and not intending to leave anything or anyone out, here are a few snippets of my 2010.
I had the opportunity to come to know several people in community law enforcement and gain a much greater appreciation for the strange and often trying reality they experience daily. It’s a tough job because your clientele is often so weird; but someone has to do it and thank God someone is.
I met some of the most awesome dogs and cats at a shelter and a handful of humans go to great lengths to tend to the well being of those animals. While they may not be living in an ideal home environment, I’m here to tell you those canine and kitty castoffs are in the next best situation (and remember, any of them can be yours for the low, low price of…)
I shared some time with a woman whose dedication to public service may well be unmatched. I’ll never work in any one place for 53 years; that’s assured because it’s already too late. I can only imagine the patience necessary to deal with court-related issues day in and day out for more than five (!) decades.
I met a couple of media-types who truly care about offering something to listen to on the radio that differs from the typical fare crammed in our ears by mainstream commercial stations. It’s nice knowing that those same people care as much as they do about the way they represent their community.
I met guys who save peoples’ property – and sometimes even lives – by putting out fires without monetary compensation.
I met numerous young people whose main focus when they’re not in the classroom isn’t the latest video game or a big bag of chips.
I even know alpaca lingo now.
But, of course, 2010 wasn’t all about work.
On the contrary; almost every aspect of my Ozark existence seemed to be taken to the next level, so to speak.
Thanks to a very knowledgeable neighbor (his is one of the five or six homes within a mile of our remote outpost, so I guess he qualifies as a neighbor), I now know there’s an ancient and prolific pear tree nearby our house. Thanks to the same long-time resident of the jillikins, I also know how to answer if someone asks “where’d you get them pears?”
I’ll say “from a tree.”
Thanks to another within-a-mile-or-so neighbor, I know where there’s an old farm pond where you can catch giant bluegill on every cast. These things are fat and weigh about a pound apiece – they look more like good-sized crappie (if anyone asks, they’re “from a pond”).
Thanks to a blazing hot summer, my wife and I became experts on where to submerge one’s body in some wonderful river water.
I discovered the best barbeque place I’ve ever eaten at (Missouri Hick in Cuba, Mo. – mmm mmm good).
I got to witness a member of nature’s greatest troop of live actors putting on a performance worthy of a Tony (you say opossum, I say possum – what-ev-er).
I became friends with a young buck, watched a horse act like a dog, watched a dog act like a cartoon character (more to come on that later) and had multiple run-ins with an enormous tom turkey that must have ostrich in its ancestry (more to come on that, too).
I even wrote the first verse to what I now consider to be my 14-year-old nephew’s theme song when he visits from the big city, “I’m Back in the Ozarks Again” (“There’s a crayfish in my shorts and a buzzard ate my sandwich, I’m back in the Ozarks again; I got gravel in my sneakers and there’s seed ticks in my ears, I’m back in the Ozarks again”). Not to worry – there probably won’t ever be a second verse.
Having lived in four states in four vastly different regions of the country, having traveled the highways and skyways enough to have set foot in 36 states and having worked for long periods of time in two very different fields, I can’t say I remember too many boring or routine years. But none of them have anything on 2010 as far as memorable experience goes.
No schmooze intended; the reality is that day after day, as each moment passed, my appreciation for my surroundings grew.
People in Georgia call it being “from off.”
Living in the Northeast Georgia mountains for eight years before coming to Missouri, I’m pretty sure I was close to making it off the from-off list. But I don’t think I ever quite made it.
Having lived in Texas County for a little over four years now, I know there’s a long way yet to go here.
But I’d like to think I’m getting there.
God willing, I’ll take a few more steps in that direction in 2011.
Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. E-mail: ddavison@houstonherald.