Last Thursday a colleague asked me to give a talk to his Public Speaking class about serving on Lamar Town Council, working as a teacher, and how I balance the two. Below is the written version of that talk, which is adapted in part from my post “Small Pond” (read the full version on SubscribeStar).
At my second Town of Lamar Council Meeting, my colleagues outvoted me 4-1 to renew Lamar’s mask ordinance for another sixty days. They also shot down my proposal that we reopen council meetings to the public, who can currently only attend online via Facebook Live and Zoom.
That’s precisely what I expected to happen, and I appreciate their reasons: concerns about safety, etc. The big, lingering question—one I can’t get out of my mind—is “when does it end?” At what point are we safe “enough” to remove our masks?
Last week was an exceptionally busy one for yours portly, with a number of duties and responsibilities intersecting at once. I’m sure many readers have noticed this phenomenon, but there is a decidedly cyclical nature to workflow; indeed, it’s almost tidal in the manner it ebbs and flows: I can go for two or three weeks enjoying a fairly placid schedule, only to have a couple of weeks of intense activity. Everything seems to come to a head at the same time.
That’s particularly true in education, a field that is structurally cyclical, with regular intervals of heightened activity baked into the calendar. The third quarter ended Friday, marking the beginning of the end of the school year (fourth quarter—that last, mad dash to summer vacation—starts today). That means last week was a flurry of finalizing grades and writing report card comments.
My school requires unique, individualized comments for every student, and though we teach (on average) fewer students than the typical public school teacher, we’re expected to go above and beyond. Because my colleagues and I were scolded as a group for comments deemed inadequate (for the record, I always write exceptional comments), I decided to double-down and write even more ridiculously detailed comments. Our registrar read through them Friday morning (after I worked furiously and late into the night Thursday to finish them before the weekend) and said, “I felt like I was reading a novella.” Mission accomplished.
That’s all to say that I’m very tired, so I thought this Monday would be a good opportunity to offer some brief updates.
After what seemed like two weeks of rain, we finally had a warm, sunny weekend here in South Carolina, with temperatures in the upper-seventies and clear skies. South Carolina tends to go directly from the depths of winter to a hot spring (or cool-ish summer), and this sudden leap in temperature and climate corresponded with a sudden change in mood. Instead of bundling up sleepily watching horror movies, the warm weather inspired some spirited outings.
Aside from a rather adventurous, muddy trip to Lee State Park (more on that in tomorrow’s post), my girlfriend and I dedicated Sunday afternoon to doing some late winter plantings (in keeping with my desire to homestead more on my property). Growing season for most garden-variety plants begins much earlier here in South Carolina than other parts of the country, so we took advantage of the warm water to pot some edible plants, and put two directly into the ground.
It’s been an eventful week, so I figured an extra post today running down the posts from the past few days would be worthwhile. Also, I’m a slave to the WordPress daily streak counter, and when I scheduled this morning’s post on Wednesday, WordPress for some reason immediately e-mailed a preview; ergo, I want to make sure I get the daily post streak. Gotta keep the streak alive!
So, here is a quick rundown of this week’s posts:
- “Memorable Monday: Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading” (Monday, 18 January 2021) – Some suggested reading for your day off, including Neo’s link to MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
- “The Last Day of Freedom?” (Tuesday, 19 January 2021) – Some musings on life under the (then-pending) Biden administration. Contra one anonymous commentator’s claims that I was lying and fearful, a closer reading of this long post indicates that I am optimistic, not about the national government, but about local government and community-building.
- “Inauguration Day 2021” (Wednesday, 20 January 2021) – Some more reflections on the Biden-Harris Era, as well as my own inauguration to Lamar Town Council.
- “TBT: Gardening” (Thursday, 21 January 2021) – A look back at the joys of gardening, and the satisfaction of feeling my own soil between my fingers.
- “The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s’The Moldau’” (Friday, 22 January 2021) – Some mild analysis and major appreciation of a beautiful piece of music—something lighter for your weekend.
A post on gardening might be a strange pick for TBT in the dead of winter, but my mind has been on the topic more and more lately, both as a beautiful outdoor hobby and as a means of sustenance—even survival. There’s also a spiritual element to feeling one’s own soil between one’s fingers. I get a sense of deep satisfaction after pawing through the richness of my own land.
Perhaps I’m being overly Romantic, but planning and planting a garden is a wonderful experience. I’m not very good at it, mind you (unlike my mother, who can make anything grow in any conditions, it seems), but I enjoy tackling the flower beds (just not enough to keep them free of weeds consistently).
As I noted Tuesday, I’ve become increasingly interested in investing in a solid cultivator and turning some my lawn into beds for vegetables. A buddy of mine is keen on the idea, and has offered to help with his labor and some funds in exchange for a share of the crops (would that make him a sharecropper, essentially renting my land and giving me some of the fruits of his labor?). I think it would be a fun, albeit time-consuming, project, but one worthwhile.
Another friend of mine has been slowly turning his postage stamp backyard into a thriving organic garden for years now. He’s been growing without fertilizer so that the soil can build back up essential nutrients and fertility. Apparently, fertilizer yields great resorts in the short-term, but it doesn’t help the soil replenish its fertility. He’s taking the long, slow approach, but he’s gradually turning that Midlands Carolina clay into rich topsoil.
There’s so much I don’t know about this process, but at the same time, my thought is, “dig in.” I already buried last year’s Jack O’Lanterns and seeds near my grapevines—why not? Maybe I’ll get lucky and get some pumpkins. Worst-case, my grapevines get some more nutrients.
Or it could all just be an expensive boondoggle. We’ll see. My results this past Labor Day weekend were pretty good, so I’m feeling optimistic.
With that, here is 2019’s “Gardening“:
The day has arrived—the briefly delayed third term of Obama’s presidency. In the years since Obama left office, the progressive Left has become even more insane. After a four-year reprieve under Trump, the radical progressives aren’t going to let another opportunity pass to transform the country completely.
Things are going to get worse before they get better, which is why I’m encouraging my fellow conservatives, Christians, and traditionalists to think and act locally in the years to come (H/T to historian Brion McClanahan for that pithy phrase). Now is the time to attend town/city and county council meetings, to run for local and State offices, and to build up communities. While we can do some of that online, we’ve got to get out and meet people—join Bible studies, form local clubs, revive forgotten civic organizations, etc. Heck, even play at an open mic!
Well, the results from yesterday’s election are in—and I won! At some point (soon, I hope) I’ll be sworn in as a member of Lamar Town Council.
I don’t have photographs of the final print-out, so I don’t the breakdown by precinct, but I hope to obtain that information soon. I got the results from the election workers as they pulled the receipt from the voting machine shortly after 7 PM EST last night: 121 for Cook, 69 write-in.
I know, I know—everyone wants to read and talk about the storming of our metaphorical Bastille. I’m going to cover that in-depth in this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post, not because I know it is the event of the decade—and will therefore crassly milk it for subscribers—but because my own observations are so tantalizingly spicy, I have to hide them behind a paywall. Believe it or not, $1 is apparently a major hurdle.
Instead, I’m going to focus on a bit local draconianism that I will hopefully soon be able to address head-on: my small town of Lamar has adopted a mask ordinance. Given our current Town Council, I’m surprised it took this long.
The ordinance, dated 14 December 2020 and effective 4 January 2021—but only received in water bills on 7 January 2021—is entitled “REQUIRING INDIVIDUALS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS IN RETAIL AND FOODSERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, AND MATTERS RELATED THERETO.” It features a number of “WHEREAS” justifications, mostly the “recommendations of public health experts.” It then lists the “Use of Face Coverings” in Section 1, detailing that face coverings must be worn indoors at stores and restaurants, etc., with plenty of opportunities to not wear a mask listed in Section 2, “Exemptions”—religious reasons, dental cleanings, etc.
The penalties for infractions—detailed in Sections 3 and 4—are $25 for individuals and $100 for businesses that fail to require employees to wear masks. Section 3 seems laughably unenforceable in a town that has maybe three police officers—and just a recipe for another unpleasant interaction between otherwise law-abiding citizens and police. Section 4 is particularly onerous, though, as it forces private companies to force their employees to wear masks, or face daily $100 fines.
Granted, most business establishments have already bent the knee and have bought into the mask hysteria. In my mind, though, that makes the mask mandate even more unnecessary: if Dollar General is making me wear a mask to buy a $1.26 loaf of bread-based loaf product anyway, why does the Town Council need to ladle an extra dollop of self-righteous scolding?