This week marks the beginning of my third year at the Jefferson Post. It has been a collection of challenges I could not have imagined, which have led me to a place I thought I would never go.
But that is waxing poetic and getting a little ahead of where I want to go.
One of the most recent lessons is about blueberries. I learn new things daily in this job, but I’d never considered the possibility that blueberries would be among them.
My friend Johnny Burleson is co-owner of Old Orchard Creek Farm with Walter Clark. The farm is also known as the old Swansie Shepherd place. Swansie Shepherd and his forebears were an innovative bunch, transforming a swamp in a holler near Horse Creek into an apple orchard and a blueberry patch all in one closely-knit living and production area.
I went there once in apple season and experienced a farm community gathering that I had not seen since my Sand Mountain Alabama relatives gathered on summer Saturday evenings around the sorghum mill. It was a fine feeling of community and friendship.
In my flatlander days, I imagined blueberries as coming from much farther north, in much colder climates than North Carolina. In my mind blueberries grew in places like Massachusetts and Vermont. Now I find out we are on the verge of blueberry season right here in Ashe as we speak. Johnny Burleson said early last week that blueberries would be ready in a couple of weeks.
Karen Powell of SkyLine Telephone has picked many blueberries from a private plot in what seems to be the the Horse Creek area. She tried to direct me there but I got lost in the mental notes, so I’m using extreme cation with that.
She advises getting to blueberries early in the season. The bees get bad as July gets by. She also warns of the temptation to eat more blueberries than you take home as you pick.
I recall these same difficulties picking blackberries in the late summer days of my Alabama youth. Blackberries also offered the tortures of skin-ripping briars and the fear of dangerous snakes lurking to swallow a small child.
I lived through that and think I will probably survive the challenges of blueberry picking in a much cooler upper Ashe County climate.
In my two years here I have learned that places exist that one does not need air conditioning. Flatlanders have a hard time believing that is true.
Cooler is one thing. Down right freezing cold misery is another.
I also learned about managing 8 to 12 inches of snow for 100 days of the worst winter I have seen. I did learn how to do it. I got in to work every day, and I lost weight hiking in and out of my lovely cabin in the woods. It is much lovelier this spring.
I learned of the great charity of people in this community, several of whom took me in during the height of the snow to ease my misery.
I have also learned about business consolidation in the challenged newspaper business and believe we are doing more with fewer resources than before. It is the challenge of all businesses during these economic times. We haven’t done it perfectly, but this staff I work with at the Jefferson Post has done it well. They are showing the world how community newspapers grow into a new age. We are defining it to preserve this important part of this community. It is a gratifying challenge.
I have learned a thing or two about challenges in general. As you are figuring them out, you get stronger. You can feel better about having overcome them, or at least living to tell about them. I have learned that most are not the be all and end all but what we need to strive for is better service to the people around us.
Thank you for two good years. I look forward to the next year of challenges and overcoming them.
Lonnie Adamson is Editor/General Manager of the Jefferson Post.