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Silencing The Grackle Song
BY BILL FAVER
A pair of boai-tailcd gracklcs
have decided to build a nest in a
near our front
door at the
begin at day
break and work
hard all day to
als and form
their nest. At
least I think
faver that is what
they arc doing. The female seems
to carry most of the nest-building
responsibility, while the male
shares his joy with the other shiny
males hanging out nearby.
It is obvious they have a lot to
talk about, whatever it is. They are
constantly chattering and strutting
and displaying, seeming to show
off for the female. The poor mock
ingbird, whose bush they have tak
en over, sits nearby and just watch
1 must admit the noise gets to me
after a while, and I almost agree
with Robert Frost in his poem, "A
/ have wished a bird would fly
And not sing by my house all
Have clapped my hands at him
from the door
when it seemed as if I could
bear no more.
The fault must partly have been
The bird was not to blame for
And of course there must be
In wanting to silence any song.
Taking the poet's advice, we de
cided to watch these iridescent
black birds and even to offer them
some breadcrumbs to entice them
to us for better viewing. We were
rewarded with some close observa
tion and some understanding of
PHOTO BY BIU. f AVI*
THE MOCKINGBIRD waits patiently while the grackles take
over the nesting area.
their cockiness and their courting almost perfectly still for a few sec
behavior. onds or longer. Then the pose was
They would posture and ruffle broken and they began again to fly
feathers, spread their wings and around the yard or to come closer
tails and bow. As they vocalized for more bread.
with excitement, they would often We left them still nest-building
jump and turn and point their bills and courting and chattering. It was
upward toward the sky and remain the only way to silence their song!
She had been in the garden. There
were all the telltale signs: dirt
around her cuticles, a dark smudge
across one cheek, trails of sweat
trickling down the center of her back
and something rusty brown like dry
peat moss on the worn scuffs pro
tecting her feel as she stood in line
at the counter.
Her hair looked like a rat's nest,
as though it had been squashed un
der a hat on the most humid day of
the year and then set free in the
wind. She had a "farmer's tan"?red
neck and cut-off marks on the arms.
This 30-something woman was
filling her arms with more "yard
stuff' and chatting enthusiastically
with the saleswoman about the new
flower bed she was digging.
But what I really noticed was this:
She was happy, relaxed and smiling.
If she had had a bad day at the of
fice, you couldn't tell it now. She
was in her element
Perhaps that helps explain why
gardening is the No. 1 hobby in
America: It's therapeutic, offering
exercise, fresh air and a choice of
short- or long-term gratification, de
pending upon what you choose to
plant. For care-dependent adults
with no children and no pets, it pro
vides an alternative form of nurtur
But watch out! It can also be a
power thing for those who enjoy ex
ercising control. ("Get the Safer's,
honey. We have mealybugs to exter
minate.") Or better yet, "Get aggres
sive with me one more time, liriope,
and see if I don't cut off your water
Some of us who call ourselves
How Grows Your Garden?
gardeners are happy just digging in
the din, others have much higher ex
pectations of reward, such as prize
winning dahlias or roses or boun
teous harvests of com and beans. It
suits me just to have fresh salad
makings every day.
A cousin recently cast his analyti
cal gaze at my little backyard gar
den. It has short rows of raised beds
that are a little higher than usual (a
trick learned from previous water
logged seasons). Not much was
coming up at the time and the beds
hadn't been mulched. I admit they
looked kind of pitiful, but still I
didn't expect what came next.
Coolly he asked my husband,
"You got somebody buried out
So some of us are better garden
ers than others. Who cares?
According to the National Gar
dening Association, gardening is the
top hobby in America. The NGA
says Baby Boomers are not only fu
eling this trend, they're changing the
way America gardens. Yuppies were
the extreme in weekend gardeners, I
suppose, with their $100 custom
tools and rare, imported French
beans and herbs.
Vegetable gardening used to be a
necessity for households, a way to
help make ends meet and insure
healthy meals for your family. It
didn't require much in the way of
special clothing or equipment.
You can still follow that model of
frugality and health consciousness,
but gardening has bccome trendy.
You know what that means. You can
pour as much moolah into the
ground these days as you have to
spend, choosing rare vegetable vari
eties or unusual trees and perennials
for your landscape, an entire ward
robe of gardening apparel and an ar
ray of specialized tools that rivals
Scale's not important either. You
can plant a few pots on the patio or
in the window or convert the entire
yard into your own miniature Para
dise, with sophisticated irrigation
and greenhouse systems to boot.
Do it whatever way you like. The
doctor say it's good for you. Fellow
gardeners say it's fun.
Whatever. Research shows that
people begin to relax within five to
seven minutes of being around
greenery. It's nearly as soothing as
having a pet. It helps speed recovery
of the physically sick, helps keep the
emotionally disturbed on a even keel
and brings a sense of well-being to
any and all of us.
So I'll see you in the garden!
for a dry ride
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Five-Year Cancer Survivor
Is Called 'WicrIkin
To the editor:
For many months I'd been praying that everything
would tum out okay for Chris Caudill, especially after
the bone marrow transplant; for I knew 1 could be right
I, too, got breast cancer at age 34. Early detection is
the major key, and although I detected a problem at a
very early stage, a doctor made his diagnosis by mam
mogram alone. He just passed the word along, "It's
nothing, don't worry." After my lump had grown to
about the size of a golf ball, all this doctor did was pre
scribe a drug used to break up fibrocystic lumps.
Thank God I got a second opinion when I did, be
cause this lump has grown so much, so fast I immedi
ately went through a mastectomy and six months of
chemotherapy, then the following year, three operations
of reconstructive surgery.
My oncologist said he felt 98 percent sure I was
cured. I went back to life as usual as much as I possibly
could. Within a year I suddenly became completely crip
pled because the cancer had spread into my lower spine
and pelvic areas. There wasn't too much left of my
My doctor wanted me to begin chemo and radiation. 1
went to Duke for another opinion, and left there feeling I
had about three weeks to live. All they wanted me to do
was take an anti-estrogen hormone. I refused the chemo,
but took a series or radiation treatments because my
doctor assured me the radiation would shrink the tu
Determined to live, I then went to see an Indian chief
in the North Carolina foothills who teaches self-help
methods, and started my own research to find out every
thing I could to fight cancer. I made many changes in di
et, attitude and priorities in life. This month I am a five
year survivor?a walking miracle, I am told by the pro
My question is, why wouldn't the professionals tell
me right from the beginning what to do, instead of me
having to learn about it the way 1 did, when I was so
tired and fighting so hard to live?
To the family of Chris I say please be relieved that
she is resting in peace now, because this girl did a lot of
suffering. And to all the wondcrtul people in this county
who prayed for me, I say God works miracles in many,
Ocean Isle Beach
A Far-Reaching Beacon
To the editor
Just a note to let you know how far The Brunswick
Beacon reaches, at least in terms of geography. It is read
weekly in the communist country of the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam.
I am assigned to the Department of Defense's Joint
Task Force-Full Accounting, Commanding Detachment
2 in Hanoi, Vietnam, and have been here for 13 months.
We have the mission to search for Americans who are
still unaccounted for (MIAs) as a result of the war in
Indochina. We are the only official U.S. Government
presence in the country of Vietnam.
As a former homeowner on Holden Beach, I have
continued to remain up to date on activities at the beach
by reading the Beacon and always look forward to in
coming mail, especially the paper. I am due to return to
the United States in June and look forward to being a
homeowner on Holden Beach soon thereafter.
Best wishes to all at the beach.
Ll Col. Jack Donovan
Chief Has 'Fine Qualities'
To the editor
I want to congratulate the Town of Shallottc for hav
ing Chief Rodney Gausc, since he has many fine quali
I had an occasion to ask for his assistance, and his
professional, caring and helpful attitude was outstand
Gladys R. Holden
Thank Officers For Work
To the editor
On May 15 of each year National Peace Officers
Memorial Day is observed across the United States. The
week of May 14 was proclaimed National Police Week
by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
In 1982 the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police
started the National Peace Officers Memorial Service.
Since that first service over 10 years ago, the attendance
has mushroomed from a few dozen individuals to
crowds estimated at more than 15,000. Guest speakers in
past years include President George Bush, Vice Presi
dent Dan Quayle, John Walsh of "America's Most
Wanted," and West Virginia Deputy Sheriff Ron Wat
kins, maimed by a car bomb.
This year 136 federal, state and local law enforcement
officers will be honored in Washington, D.C., at the
National Memorial Service. This number includes five
North Carolina officers who died in the line of duty in
1992. Over 250 officers are known to have died in the
line of duty in North Carolina history.
Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line
every day they report for work. The rewards for a life of
service are few; the dangers and stress are ever-present.
The next time you see a law enforcement officer,
please let him or her know that you appreciate the job
they do. It will mean more to them than you will ever re
Tom Vernon, Secretary
Fraternal Order of Police
Brunswick County Lodge # 53
The Beacon welcomes letters to the editor. All
letters must be signed and include the writer's address
and telephone number. We reserve the right to edit
libelous comments. Address letters to The Brunswick
Beacon, P. O. Box 2558, Shalloue, N. C. 28459.
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