June 22, 2003
COLUMBUS: I’ve been out wandering over Ohio, learning about conserving soil and water. First it was at Circleville, hometown of Joe E. Brown. Then up to Wooster for a conference where they honored two old professors that started working on no-tillage forty years ago. Their research plots are still producing results and still showing how plowing on slopes lets the soil wash away over the years.
These fellows are Glover Triplett and Dave VanDoren, and while they aren’t as famous as Burbank or Carver, the no-till revolution they started along with some other folks around the country is catching hold. You throw in some farmers like Bill Richards and Jim Kinsella and you’ve got some high level thinking that beats most of what passes for wisdom coming out of Washington these days.
Not everybody is so hot on this no-till idea. There’s some folks that figure we ought to grow crops with no fertilizer and no chemicals, just round up about ten million workers every summer and give ’em a hoe to chop weeds, then in winter they can shovel out the barns.
Down in Australia they have a name for this conservation farming: Landcare. You take care of the land and it’ll take care of you. Everybody’s for it. This Landcare idea might spread to these shores if we’re fortunate.
These no-till farmers are not only growing crops they are banking carbon. Storing excess carbon in the soil is a whole lot smarter than letting it float around in the air. There’s more to farming than what comes off the land. What stays with the land counts, too.
North Carolina had a big contest yesterday. I’m not referring to the Hollering event in Spivey’s Corner, although that’s a big one. If fact you won’t find bigger voices anywhere, even on American Idol.
No, the big competition I’m talking about was in Raleigh to see who gets to be the next Miss North Carolina. What makes this such a big deal, more so than in any other state, is what happened last year. You might recollect that the winner, Rebekah Revels, had to give her crown to the runner-up because her no account ex-boyfriend threatened to print some photos he never should have took in the first place.
Last month she said she wanted the crown back, at least long enough to crown the new Miss North Carolina. This posed an embarrassing problem for pageant officials because the former runner-up said she was well qualified to do the crowning, and didn’t need Rebekah’s help.
Now, it just wouldn’t do to have these two beautiful women on stage fighting over one crown. Those crowns have points, and they’re tipped with cut diamonds. Now, let me ask you, would you want them out there with a sharp object?
That left the officials with another problem, who would do the crowning? They needed someone with experience, someone with charm, with flair. Just about any former Miss NC qualified, but they settled on my old friend, Jeanne Swanner Robertson. It was forty years ago that Jeanne represented North Carolina in the Miss America pageant, and she holds two distinctions. No contestant has ever been funnier, and none has ever been taller.
To put this development in perspective, just imagine if the Democratic Party said to those nine folks campaigning for President, “Go on back home, we’re nominating Pat Paulsen instead.” Or, suppose you were to turn out your county sheriff and replace him with Mayberry’s Andy Griffith.
So Jeanne brushed off the mothballs and her sense of humor and geared up for the big night. She told me last week, “I’ve been holding in my stomach, smiling and practicing the pageant wave. My plan is to tape up the sagging areas on my body, a process that will take approximately twenty-four hours. I fully intend to walk out on stage on my own accord and unassisted. I’m ready, but at this point in my life, if they give me a scholarship, I will not, I repeat, will not, go back to school. The biggest problem so far, is I put Vaseline on my teeth, and then I couldn’t remember where I put my teeth.”
You know they always let the past winner, just before she relinquishes the crown, kinda summarize what all she’s been up to since being crowned. Usually they allow about five minutes. This time, with forty years to cover, nobody knows how long Jeanne will go on. And they’ll be laughing so hard no one will care.
I’ve gone on a bit longer than normal myself. But I figured, if twelve year olds can read 800 pages of Harry Potter at one sitting, then a page and a half isn’t too much to lay out for the rest of you. Between J. K. Rowling and Senator Clinton, there hasn’t been so much reading since Mark Twain and McGuffey were in their prime.
Prince William turned 21 this weekend, and next Saturday another popular Englishman, the old Methodist himself, John Wesley celebrates birthday number 300. The way things are going, young Will may have to live just as long before he ever gets to be King.
Historic quote from Will Rogers:
“I have prowled the width and breadth of that wonderfully progressive state of North Carolina. Their citizens have been mighty good to me in time of need. I have sold ’em a mighty poor grade of jokes, but which they always seemed to accept either out of sheer generosity, or simply because they had nowhere else to go.” WA #557, August 27, 1933