To The Finish, Please (And Through The Park)

Often during my writing, I approach my laptop with a preset topic in mind. I keep a list topics that I update several times a week. I usually review the list of topics and make a decision on which topic to cover during that particular sitting. I then strikethrough the topic once I have written about it. After some editing, I decide whether to post the essay straight to my blog or save it for another time. I then go and resume my normal daily routine which includes finding things to write about and adding them to my previously mentioned list of topics. It’s not exactly a vicious circle but it does sometimes glare its teeth.
It’s pretty cool to actually look at the list and see that I have several topics from which to choose. These topics usually come from my warped mind doing what it does. More than one person I know has heard me say “I should write about that”. I have sent many emails to myself just so that I don’t forget to add it to my list of topics. Once I sit down and choose a topic and start writing, it truly becomes like taking a ride. I sit down and start typing away. I feel myself begin to pick up speed and momentum. I feel like I could climb any mountain and sail across the stormy sea (Please don’t sue me, Mick Jones. The Foreigner concert at Darien Lake is still stuck in my head). In addition to this wild ride, there is the fact that I am going in a much different direction than I planned when I first started. This is usually the point when I realize that I am not the One doing the driving. It is often after the writing is all done and I am reviewing the piece that I realize that I am not just in the passenger seat of the vehicle.  I am not being carried in some rough rickshaw ride. I am being chauffeured to my destination. It is truly a great ride. Just when I think I know the route like the back of my hand, I am shown a new way to get to from point A to point B. I even sometimes find out that neither of these points were quite where I thought they were. All of this happens while never experiencing a feeling of being lost. Even as I write this piece, I realize that I initially approached this with a different topic in mind. Trust me, please. I am not turning senile at 45. I am just along for the literary ride.
I am not sure why, other than foolish pride, that I feel that my writing comes entirely from me. I am so reminded that it is quite to the contrary. These reminders come either when I am searching for a topic or when I find myself on one of the above mentioned wild rides. I have a friend, Kevin Cummings, whose writing I have admired. Kevin has proven to be a great mentor since I began writing. I asked Kevin once how he handles dry spells in writing where the ideas and inspiration don’t seem to be coming. Kevin advised me to use a list of topics like the one I mentioned earlier in this writing. He also said something to me that really struck home: “You are the conduit of the talent. You are NOT the Source of the talent”. It was a sorely needed dose of perspective. Now, I can make another strikethrough in my topic list. Thanks, Kevin.

Shame On You, Johnny Apple Thief!

I had previously written that there are certain things in life that, when I seem them, provoke one of three reactions: anger, laughter, or my head shaking in wonder. Sometimes it is a combination of any of those three reactions. For this writing, I feel the need to share a story that once again prompts a combination of those reactions. When I last wrote on this subject, I touched on the passing of a law sorely overdue law against texting while driving. For this writing, I feel the need to touch on a law that has been around since the age of Moses (“Thou shalt not steal’ Exodus 20:15 King James Version). I am going to share a story that I could not have possibly created about one person’s attempt to sidestep this law. Coincidentally, it is a story that also involves a garden (to be specific an orchard). It even involves fruit that is (at least to those that don’t own it) forbidden.
Before I delve into the story, I feel the need to share something about myself (to those who are not already aware). I am a Georgia native.I spent half of my life living in the Southern United States. I am now in my mid-forties. I have spent most of the last 23 years living in Western New York. All four of my children were born in New York. I have never really fallen in love with New York. I mean no disrespect to my readers from the Empire State. It’s just like the old saying goes: “You can take the man out of Georgia. You can’t take Georgia out of the man.” Having said all that, there is one thing about New York that I do love – apples. I like apple slices, apple sauce, apple juice, apple cider, and apple pie. This works well because New York is only second to the state of Washington in apple production. Such a fact helps keep my relationship with New York amicable.
Now, on with the story. This is the story of an orchard that is owned by a family in Western New York. Hurd Orchard is a business that has been running for 7 generations. The sign at the front of the orchard says it all: “A Farm, A Family, A Tradition”. This long running family business grows fruits and flowers on approximately 300 acres. Among the varieties of produce grown by the orchard is, you guessed it, apples. And among the apples produced by this orchard were 180 trees given to the family by Cornell University. These are special trees that were not to be introduced to the market for another two years. In short, they were looking to provide two new varieties of apples to the market. This could stand to provide a boost to growers throughout the state of New York. More apples for consumers. More revenue for growers.
Unfortunately, one man allegedly felt that the law of New York State (and basic human decency) did not apply to him. Six days after these 180 new apple trees were planted, 83 of them were stolen right out of the ground from where they were planted. It is uncertain how exactly this caper was pulled off. I guess when you have 300 some odd acres of land to cover, it is perhaps easier for one to greedily steal what doesn’t belong to them. Reports began to surface that this man allegedly had baby apple trees growing on his property. This man allegedly tried to explain away the new apple trees. He first said he got them off the internet. Then, when confronted by law enforcement, he said that he got them from some Hispanic males. Perhaps he thought that law enforcement would resort to racial profiling and leave him alone. After all, there were no department store security tags on these trees. There was no alarm triggered when he allegedly left the orchard with his precious bounty. He just needed to shoo away some cops and things would be fine. I can only assume this thief was looking to be the big kahuna of some underworld apple cartel. After all, why go through all the work of getting people hooked on some illicit drug when you can just literally snatch food right from folks’ mouths (and profit from it). This man, in an act of unmitigated audacity and boundless greed, attempted to steal from a family business. He also was trying to (perhaps) create an enterprise that was free to him alone. None of the explanations the alleged thief offered could be verified and he was taken into custody by law enforcement. In the end, 73 of these trees that were recently planted on a family orchard and subsequently supplanted by a thief, have now been re-planted back on the orchard where they rightfully belong.
To the family running Hurd Orchard, I sincerely hope that people all over the world speak of your produce seven generations later. To the alleged thief, may you be afforded your due legal process. May you be tried by a jury of your peers. Lastly, if convicted in a court of law, may our prison work detail consist of you spending your life gathering road apples.
PS – As I stated, this came from a news piece. The story is not one of my own creation per se. This is simply my reaction to the reported events. The story, as I found it, can be located at http://rochester.ynn.com/content/top_stories/551324/man-charged-in-apple-tree-theft/