News Columns & Blogs

There will be peace in the valley, some day

It’s Saturday morning as I sit looking out my lanai, past a pair of still wind chimes, to a gently rippling pond, which reflects the sun-dappled trees beyond.

In the early sun, those trees and the natural ferns growing along the shoreline take on hues of pastel green, emerald, jade and green so dark that it almost seems black. Spring beckons.

We’ve seen otter and rabbits out there, and every kind of feathered fowl, from ducks to herons to ibis.

My Herald is on the floor in sections, scattered after a leisurely reading of the news. A steaming cup of coffee sits on the table.

It’s a moment of peace and serenity, one of those moments we envisioned we might enjoy when we bought this house in 2003.

Even then, the housing market was red-hot, gyrating through forces that nobody seemed to understand. There were times we wondered if we would ever be able to find a house that we liked and could afford. There was so much competition for every house, and it seemed that the average price got a little higher every month.

Little could we imagine that the housing market was about to get so much hotter. And that it would come crashing down.

But so far, we have been lucky. We are among those who bought our houses with the intention of living in them, rather than flipping them quickly for profit.

We are not upside down in the house, owing more on the house than it is worth. But we could be some day.

Not that it’s worth worrying about. That’s like worrying about the Dow, the hurricane season and why Hugo Chavez hates the United States.

Late in the week, the Dow did manage a couple of good days, and Obama administration folks said they saw a few hopeful signs with the economy.

We can hope.

Getting back to my back door, that tranquility we hoped to enjoy has been a rare thing. We’ve been too busy, and we’ve too often failed to appreciate those wind chimes, which are now beginning to tinkle in a breeze that is stirring. We can do a much better job of counting those blessings in a time of great uncertainty,

* * *

I would like to add my condolences to the families of Barbara Ferg, former long-time Bradenton Herald human resources director, and Jerry Hill, legendary outdoors writer for the Herald, both of whom passed away this week.

Barbara was a kind, sweet friend to all who knew her.

When she left the Herald several years ago to pursue her dream of starting her own business, we were happy for her but sad to see her go.

I actually met Jerry back in the late 1970s, when he came to Moore Haven with many other outdoors writers for a fishing tournament on Lake Okeechobee.

The last time I had an extended conversation with Jerry – most of them tended to be extended – was last year when he was judging a youth speech competition.

How appropriate was that for a man known for his love of tall tales?

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.