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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

A Matter of Perspective

By Julie Terry Cartner

An interesting facet of life is how our individual perceptions impact us as we strive to understand our world. We tend to have strong opinions about what we view as right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral. And yet, when we meet others, we often learn that they don’t share our viewpoints. Sometimes, when we hear others’ perspectives, we see things differently. We may or may not change our opinions, but we, at least some of the time, grasp an understanding of a different point of view and maybe see more of the gray that lives between the extremes of black and white.

As this is hurricane season, my mind drifts back to the storms of my childhood. I spent several years in Delray Beach, Florida, during which time we experienced many tropical depressions, hurricanes, and tornadoes. I remember how exciting it was for the power to go off, the house to shake with the fierce winds, and the rain to pound against the windows. I remember sitting on my parents’ bed with my sister, Anne, looking out the patio windows, watching the powerful winds snap trees and ravage the vegetation while the rain slammed against the windows so fiercely I wondered why they didn’t break.

I remember walking on the beach during the eye of the storm, finding treasures washed up from other places, even other continents – sea beans and sea hearts, tropical shells, and coral and sea glass.  I vividly remember Mom calling us back in before the other side of the hurricane hit, and Dad, ever the watchful weather man, telling us when we actually had to listen to her and go back inside before the fierce winds resumed.

And I remember the aftermath, the widespread destruction and the sound of chain saws as the men cut down the remnants of trees, twisted beyond recognition, and carted off the debris in the hot, humid Florida air.

However, as a child what I most remember was the fun.  Giant palm fronds, broken by the hurricane, swept down to the ground from their previous tree-topping heights and created first rate slides for young boys and girls.  My sister, neighbor, Tommy, and I could run through a nature made obstacle course, scampering up the trunks and sliding down the slippery center of the palm fronds until we were exhausted. We could play hide-and-go-seek under the giant leaves and splash through pond-sized pools of water.  We had the greatest fun, and even had the temerity to get angry at our fathers when their chain saws would clean up what they saw as a mess, and we saw as a fantastic playground.

What I remember is the adventure: the shivery excitement of witnessing the full power of nature’s fury, the thrill of camping out in the house, living without electricity, and the absolute delight of playing in the destruction of the aftermath. I was just a child and had a child’s perception.

As an adult, married, with a two year old and a baby, my husband and I lived through Hurricane Hugo. What a difference. During the storm, I worried about my children’s safety and experienced the fears of a new homeowner, hoping for little damage to our house and property. In the two weeks of no electricity aftermath, I struggled with the basic necessities we didn’t have – no power, no water, no flushing toilets. We only lost one tree, but it was our sole pecan tree.  I saw hurricanes as neither fun nor exciting; it was scary during and a whole lot of work afterwards.

Of course, childhood and adult perceptions are different because they come from two different phases of life. We easily accept that children don’t see things the same way adults do, and we are very tolerant, even sometimes envious, of the differences in thought processes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be just as generous in our thinking as we deal with other adults? We may not be generationally separated, but often we are diverse because of our life’s experiences, neither more nor less valid than the other. It is, after all, just a matter of perspective.

Life With COVID

By Gaye Hoots

This year has been a challenge for us. Davie County has handled the crisis well, and while several people I know have had COVID and recovered, the first three deaths in our county were Advance residents that I knew. I have adjusted to grabbing my mask if I must go inside a store or service station seeing most others wearing their masks and standing on the red tape marking six feet to keep us at a safe distance.

My family eats in restaurants a few times a month, here and at the coast. Most customers are compliant, and I try to avoid the ones who are not. I do my banking at the ATM, but this week I needed a cashier’s check. The bank I use has closed some of its branches and shortened the hours of the branches that were open to 10 to 4. When I arrived at 10, a line was forming at the door. An employee took control of the door and directed us to our spots. The line was long as only one teller was open for inside customers and another for the drive thru. A total of 4 employees herded us around, so the process was a slow one.

The children in my family are attending school 2 days a week and doing online classes the other days. They seem to be handling this well. The twins had to change preschool because the one they had attended did not open this year. Some of the churches did open for preschool, and they found a local one they are happy with.

Several friends have had to change wedding plans and dates because it is impossible to accommodate the number of guests they had planned for. This has been stressful for them, but they are looking forward their weddings.

Stores I have shopped at for years are closing, and I have seen that small businesses are closing, yet the housing market seems to be booming. New homes and apartments are going up all over Davie County and everywhere I have traveled between here and the coast. None of my family has lost employment due to COVID, but they have had to adjust because of it.

One of the biggest changes for me has been the habit of meeting friends for lunch as I do not cook, but I do stay connected on Facebook. With the masks it is hard to recognize people when I see them. A problem for me has been my car. Over a week ago the pressurized fuel pump went out on my Honda Accord. The part was ordered that day and still has not arrived. I was told that because of COVID the plant that manufactures the part was only operating at one-half capacity, presumably because of the space regulations. There have also been issues with deliveries.

During this year I have been able to maintain contact with immediate family and to travel to the coast. We were able to do this and still maintain a safe distance from others. There are stories of vaccines being developed, but if one is it always takes a while to see if it works safely for most of the population. The question of how long the immunity would last arises as there are stories of people contracting the virus for the second time.

I have spent a lot of my time reading, so I tolerate the present well but I am concerned about the impact COVID will have on our lifestyle and the safety and economy of our country in the future and pray that it will stabilize.

Stringing Beads

By Marie Craig

When I was a senior at Western Carolina College, I took an elective class of creative writing taught by a wonderful teacher, Ms. Niggli. She was also the head of the drama department. One of the main things I remember was that she emphasized the fact that there are no separate subjects in school. She convinced me that they all overlap and used the topic of drama which can include photography (archiving, publicity), costumes (for the actors), math (designing sets and timing), history (understanding the meaning of the play), and literature (studying the author and other works).

     That reminded me of my terrific seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Burgess.  We did a unit about South America. This included every possible subject we were studying that year as she interwove what we had learned.

     Ms. Niggli gave us one assignment that I remember well.  In our dorm room, we were to write about the items all the way around the room, interconnecting them.  For example, we might start with the light switch and relate it to the coat rack in the corner.  The wilder the imagination, the better.  Maybe they were both made of metal at the same factory, or my wool coat hanging on the coat rack caused me to get a shock from the metal light switch.  The sky was the limit in how they could be connected.  Then we were to relate the coat rack to another item proceeding in the same direction until we were back to the light switch.

     She said this was like stringing beads for a necklace.  When we got all the way around, we had a continuous story.  Ms. Niggli said that this was the technique for writing a story.  Each topic must relate to the next one.

     I’ve thought about this alot, especially this summer as I’ve had more time to sit on the porch and talk with neighbors.  One conversation prompts another person to remember a similar experience or topic.  I’ve read that this is the way our brains work.  One neuron fires and links to another one.

     This connectedness is important and a tool for creativeness.

RWG Literary Corner

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Submit a favorite memory of life in Davie County.  Story should be typed and not more than 250 words.  Please include your name and phone number or email address.  RWG retains reprint rights.  Email to lhb1@yadtel.net.