Now a couple of things I need to comment about. Things that have rankled for quite some time. First off, a note to reporters on NPR, especially those contributing to the morning news program Up First. It only lasts about ten minutes, and I listen almost every day, appreciating the quick update on things that are important. Some of the reporting is delivered in a regular journalistic style, then occasionally a field reporter share a story with so much breathless emoting that I’d like to have an old Vaudeville hook to pull them off air.
All of you radio and television broadcasters need to keep in mind that you’re not at a high school UIL competition performing a dramatic reading.
You’re on a newscast.
See if you can find some tapes of broadcast journalist from two or three decades ago who delivered the news with a more impassioned tone of voice so when they did get emotional, it really mattered.
The other thing that I wish journalists would stop, is the political labeling.
I know it’s so convenient for us to categorize people, but when we do that we contribute to the division between people. That division was painfully clear the other day when a lady came to my door, to discuss some business. She wasn’t wearing a mask, so I stepped outside and asked her to please step a little bit back from me so we could keep social distancing. She gave me a look – oh, how so many of us have seen that look – and said, “Oh so you’re scared.”
I told her that I wasn’t scared. I was being cautious, as I thought we all should be. She threw up her hands and tossed her head and said, “Oh but I’m a republican.”
Now I’m not a Democrat or Republican. I’m very independent in my political views, and I really couldn’t see what her being a Republican had to do with any of the things we were supposed to be talking about – which was the fact that a tree from her property fell in my roof. But that’s another story.
So, after she left, the exchange stayed with me for a long time, and I realized that she might have felt like she had to say that to defend her views about the virus; on whether or not she should wear a mask to stay safe or protect other people, which she made very clear she had no intention of doing. I wondered if part of the reason she felt the need to tell me all that is because the media has divided us into the Republicans who don’t mask and the Democrats who do.
I really wish we could be divided, if we had to be divided at all over this issue, as the people who favor wearing masks and the people who don’t favor wearing masks. No political affiliation has to be part of it. Attaching the labels of party to every single thing that happens is really counterproductive. Wouldn’t it be great to see what could happen if we stopped doing that?
Now, it’s been a while since Slim Randles has been my guest, so I’m going to close with one of his fun posts. It’s always good to start a Friday with a bit of humor to keep us happy over the weekend. Enjoy.
Like a doctor removing something important, Herb Collins gently peeled the wrapper back from the root ball and tenderly placed the baby tree in the hole. Then he stood and walked around it to see which way he should align it. Actually, looks pretty good just the way it is.
So, he took his bucket of mixed sand and compost and began sprinkling it down onto the roots and then packing it in gently with his fist.
Every few minutes he’d stop and read the directions again. When he ordered the tree, the nurseryman had written back “Are you sure?” Well, that made ol’ Herb laugh. Yes, he was sure. He’s always sure this time of year.
He was still chuckling to himself when Janice Thomas walked along the sidewalk.
“Hi Herb,” said the high school art teacher. “What is it this year?”
“Papaya, Janice. Nice healthy one, don’t you think?”
Janice took a close look at the little dark green tree.
“Isn’t that a tropical tree?”
“Sure is,” he said, tucking more dirt around the roots. “I have to read the instructions carefully to get this right.”
Janice thought carefully before speaking. “Papayas sure taste good, Herb.”
“Sure do. Wouldn’t it be nice if this lives long enough to produce fruit?”
“But you’re not expecting …”
“Of course not. The first nippy day in autumn will turn this little guy belly up.”
He looked up and smiled at Janice’s consternation.
“You know that banana tree almost made it to Christmas last year. That was my best so far. We’ll see how this little guy makes out.”
Each year Herb plants something in the front yard that has no chance at all of being there the following spring. He’s done it for years. It gives the neighborhood something to look at and talk about, and it’s fun.
“You know, Herb, if you’re looking for fruit, a cherry tree will produce …”
“I’m not looking for fruit, Janice,” he said, gently. “I’m looking for glory. Glory!”
He laughed. “Where’s the glory in planting something that will grow here? Anyone can do that. But a papaya? Ha! There’s glory in that.”
Brought to you by yourself … and me, as we take off our hats to the brave men and women of our medical and emergency services. Thank you.
Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.
All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.
Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.