op frWhen Lori and I moved to Waynesville with our then 2-year-old daughter Megan, we made a conscious choice to build a life in a small town. Our belief was that the pace of life in such a place would be more satisfying for us and more conducive to raising a family.

That was a little more than 20 years ago, and I know now we made the right decision — and for more reasons than I could even have imagined at the time. It has been and still is a great place to raise a family, and we have developed many great friendships over the years.

op dogsBy John Beckman • Guest Columnist

I’ve read the letters regarding the barking dogs issue and the responses from both sides. It’s clear to me that the central issue is not dogs at all, but how Jackson County and the region has changed, and how residents are needing to cope with these changes.

I have been in Jackson County for 19 years, I have three dogs, I own guns and would not deny anyone the right to legally hunt. But with that right comes the responsibility of abiding by the laws and to recognize the impact it has on our fellow citizens. Hunting is not a “God-given right,” but a right granted by state and federal law, under which we are all equal. Many people living here were not born here. Does that mean that we have fewer rights than someone who’s great-grandpappy moved here 100 years ago? Under the law, the answer is obviously “No.” It would appear as though some feel that they are more entitled since they were here first. I would argue that unless you can trace your family back to the first Native American, you are indeed an immigrant to the area, just like the folks who moved here last month.

op frNorth Carolina’s General Assembly — under the leadership of Republicans for the first time in more than a century— will hopefully refrain in the future from pushing unfunded mandates onto the backs of counties and their taxpayers.

The U.S. Congress approved the Help America Vote Act so that counties could keep electronic voting machines updated and election workers properly trained. After the Bush-Gore debacle in 2000 that ended up in the Supreme Court, that seemed a wise decision. Electronic machines could have prevented the problems that occurred in Florida, problems that left Americans in limbo as to who won the presidential election.

op fr“You know, this is really the only thing I know I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”

That was my daughter Hannah, a rising senior at Tuscola. She’s had a lifelong gift for coming up with sweeping, profound declarations that make Lori and I laugh first and then ponder later.

She’s talking about being a guide at Folkmoot, which she is this year for the first time. The guides get to spend the entire 12-day festival with their group, eating and sleeping at the Folkmoot Friendship Center, helping the groups make it on time to all their performances and making sure all their other needs are taken care of.

op quintinThe wonderful thing about keeping bees is there are always surprises. Just when you think you’ve learned what there is to know in one area of beekeeping or another the bees do something entirely unexpected and delightful.

I was reminded of this a few days back when we pulled off the spring honey for processing. We were later than usual with this task — the bees are now well into making the summer’s sourwood honey — but other duties had intervened until suddenly and inexplicably it was July.

op frI loved Andy Griffith as much as it is possible to love someone you’ve actually never met. In some very important ways, he was like a second father to me. Like a lot of young boys do, I worshiped my own father, even though I didn’t see him much. He was a long haul truck driver, home on the weekends and playing cards most of the time even then. He loved us and provided for us, but he just wasn’t home very often or for very long.

op quintinI slept downstairs on a futon last night, trying to escape some of the intense heat that, chimney-like, turned the upstairs of the cabin I live in into a furnace. Even so I lay in bed sweating and dozing fitfully.

Heat like this demands adjustments. Sleeping downstairs instead of upstairs. And taking care of all outside chores in the morning — it is simply too hot in the afternoon.

op scottWe were nearing the end of our European summer vacation with three other families from Western North Carolina when we pulled into Interlaken, Switzerland on a Saturday evening. As I looked around at the neat mountain chalets on the outskirts of town, it seemed they were all dark, almost as if they were closed up for the season. The entire town, it seemed, was on dim.

 My daughter has arrived at an impossible age — impossible for her, impossible for me, impossible for her mother, impossible for her brother. If this age were a dinner, we’d send it back to the kitchen. If it were a car, we’d invoke the lemon law and demand another.

 op quintinFor many years I was a dedicated runner. These days I’m much more likely to choose to walk, both for exercise and pleasure.

I enjoyed running, particularly trail running. There was a sense of freedom and power about running through the woods that I sometimes remember with longing. But you miss a lot when you run. There are all these goals involved: Improve your time, or run a certain distance, or something along those lines. By comparison walking seems pressure free. There are no particular goals, or at least I don’t set goals for walking. I tend to amble along enjoying what there is to see. Henry David Thoreau put it best when he noted “it is a great art to saunter.” It is indeed.

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