Nothing Ever Happens Around Here

When I first moved from an urban area to the wilds of Randolph County, what I believed was the middle of nowhere, I admit to being a little concerned. Would I make new friends? What about my favorite chain restaurants, not to mention the malls? What about the silence? The scenery? What if the all the green fields just blended together into monotony? And most importantly, what would I write about? What if nothing ever happens around here?

Six years later, I can truly say that none of my worst fears came to pass. I’ve made plenty of friends, many of whom are farmers, and I’ve learned just what these fields can do. One of my friends even raises donkeys, and recently I held my first 5-day old donkey jack! I also keep in touch with cherished friends from far away as New York City through Zoom and other platforms.

Meet Baby Copper–just 5 days old and 25 pounds!

It is not quiet in the country. Oh no. The birdsong here is deafening, from the wood thrush to the pileated woodpecker soaring overhead with his eerie primeval cry. We’re close to the local airport, so there’s always a new whir circling overhead. A special thanks to Mom, who introduced us to the terrific flightradar24 app, so now we know that the Boeing overhead came from Atlanta and is on its way to Liege, Belgium! So much for being in the middle of nowhere. My pilot grandfather would definitely approve.

Meet Max, my new work-out routine!

Boredom remains the least of my worries. In fact, I was more bored in the city! We’ve had at least one fugitive in the woods, two rattlesnakes (this year alone), a stranded racoon, and just recently, a stray Siberian Husky pup came our way.

I don’t miss the malls at all, which is a good thing since the pandemic seriously altered the world of shopping. And nobody here cares about fashion anyway — it’s more about comfort! As for the fancy restaurants, I’d rather live three miles from from my beloved niece, who sends me a text such as “Hey, can I come over and make pumpkin cheesecake cookies with you?”

Cooking is just one of the things I’ve found to write about, and there’s been so many more, from sewing and building to gardening and butterflies. In fact, if there were any more going on around here, I wouldn’t have time to sleep!

For the next few months, I’ll be concentrating on my memoir, a project that I hope will blend together many of my experiences through the years. So for this reason, I hope it slows down here just a little bit.

Flash Photograph! The Queen’s Comet

queen_editedSeveral members of the Royal family, including two corgis, board the new DeHavilland Comet at London’s Heathrow Airport, bound for New York.

Prince Philip remarked about how exciting it was to be flying on the most advanced jet airliner in the world.  Some time after reaching a cruise altitude of 30,000 feet, Captain Caryl Ramsay Gordon asked him if he would like to sit in the left seat.  Captain Gordon had known the Prince for years, having been his flight instructor back in the 50s, and was well aware of his reputation as a cracking stick and rudder man.

After a few minutes of straight and level flight during which he became familiar with the controls and instrument layout,  Prince Philip took the yoke in both hands and expertly put the plane through a 360 degree roll, maintaining positive Gs throughout the maneuver.  The Queen and Princess Anne both complained that they had been quite disturbed to look out and see the sky in the bottom of their window and the earth above. Upon returning to his seat next to the Queen, Prince Philip promptly apologized with a kiss and a promise never to do it again.  But it was several minutes before he stopped grinning.

Three days later a commercial Comet with a full load of passengers disappeared from radar over the North Atlantic 800 miles west of England, leaving a long debris field and few bodies to recover.  No distress call was heard.

At that point all Comets were immediately grounded until the problem could be sorted out and the mystery solved.  Fourteen months later, during stress tests on the fuselage, metal fatigue starting at the corners of the square windows was discovered to be the flaw in the design that brought the great plane down.

By the time DeHavilland had re-designed and solved their production problems, Boeing had completed the design and development of their new 707 jet liner.  They went on to dominate commercial aviation for more than half a century with many editions of their seven series airplanes flying from 112 different countries throughout the world.

The next time the Royal family flew, they used an older piston engine DeHavilland, (DH-104 Dove), one that had served them well for many years.  On board in a special compartment were nine tiny parachutes, one for each of their dogs.

Johnpaul Harris
3-3-2018

Editor’s Note: The beauty of this piece is the author’s fascination (if not obsession) with aircraft. The story itself is fiction but the specificity in the technical details lend an air of authenticity. We think Prince Philip would appreciate it, too, himself having stated, regarding his own service in WWII more than 70 years ago: “As most elderly people have discovered, memories tend to fade.” A special debt of gratitude to JP for lending samples from his extensive photo collection to our class on March 3.