Last week I put in two short days of work then took the rest of the week off. I’d been fighting some bug since Sunday, but mostly, I think, I needed a rest.
In 2001 I spent Memorial Day weekend packing for my great adventure. I had accepted a regional position with the newspapers in Brookings and Crescent City and my new job began on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Eight years later, here I am doing what I set out to do, being publisher of a “Main Street” newspaper in a beautiful coastal community.
You’re aware, I’m sure, of the challenges the newspaper industry faces in our current economy. Although The Daily Triplicate is not in danger of shutting down like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer or Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, the revenue recession has taken its toll on us.
For me, it’s personal. I feel a responsibility to the team I’ve hired and am committed to the work we do. I want this newspaper to be successful the same way I want this city and county, and for that matter, this country to be successful. My competitive nature doesn’t take setbacks easily, so I have labored over our budget nearly every day since last fall striving for the perfect balance of expense savings and revenue building to ride out the storm.
When April’s numbers came in strong, indicating, like so many other tiny sprouts of growth, that we may have turned the corner, I shut down my laptop, locked my office door and went home.
I can’t remember the last time I spent six full days in a row at home. Certainly I haven’t done it when the weather’s been so pleasant. I weeded the garden, fertilized, spread compost and then went to the Brookings Garden Club’s annual plant sale — a treasure I discovered when I lived in Brookings.
Club members dig up and start plants in their gardens. There are native plants as well as plants proven to grow here, and all are (pardon the pun) dirt-cheap. I advocate helping out this club by stretching “buy locally” a few miles across the border.
I brought home some Whopper strawberries, an assortment of ferns for my shade garden and a couple of “poor man’s orchids” — plants I successfully grew in Brookings. They resemble little orchids, die off in the winter and reseed themselves by the hundreds the next spring.
There were vegetable seeds that needed planting too. In our newest raised bed I put in pole beans, beets, carrots and spinach. We bought two chairs and a table and placed them in a sunny spot nearby. Rick and I spent every afternoon on those new chairs sipping tea, watching and listening to the birds.
The bird feeders had to be filled every other day. The cacophony of bird songs and the flutter of wings start at dawn here. Infant starlings rocking on unsteady feet wobbled around the grass with open mouths looking for mom. The show goes on all day.
Staying home on sunny days and presiding over the kingdom is a luxury when you have a job that keeps you busy 24/7. When did I let these simple pleasures slip away?
As I sit at our home computer this beautiful sunny morning, birds sing, flowers bloom and seeds sprout in my yard. I am about to get ready for my first day back to work and I realize that despite all the angst and controversy, perhaps our young reporter was right after all.
I choked on my Cheerios when I read in my own newspaper that a woman in her 50s was referred to as “elderly.” And, believe me, that reporter heard about it. But perhaps being elderly — an elder — wiser and nearer to the end of life than the beginning, is a reality worth embracing, and accepting it would be doing myself a favor. If I thought this glorious morning was the last morning of my life, how would I spend it?