Two Years of Kudzu

Summer will soon be here. The first tropical storm of the season just crawled through the upcountry over the weekend.  That first day in the high 90s is right around the corner. Local strawberries are ripe, and soon the watermelons at the Publix will not cost nine dollars.
The Hub City Farmer’s Market opens next Saturday, and so we’ll see whether our late freeze this year has affected our ability to “eat local.”

The arrival of June means it’s also anniversary time. It’s been two years now, over 100 columns, since I started reporting on my life and adventures in the Kudzu Telegraph. As Groucho Marx liked to say, “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”

Here’s an interview I did with myself this morning to celebrate:

Q. In the KT you’ve told us about your new pickup, but why do you drive it so slowly?
A. I’m always watching the shoulders of the road for road-kill. I keep a count on a small index card of how many animals have died on our local roadways. I have records going back years.

Q. And?
A. The news is not good in the upstate. My statistics show that squirrels and possums have a high mortality rate, followed by raccoons, frogs and toads, deer, and black rat snakes.

Q. Why keep up with road kill?
A. Somebody has to do it, and it just happens to be me.

Q. What’s your best KT moment this past year?
A. One of my good friends, a home builder, called me after I wrote my second negative column in a row promoting land use reform and left a message on our answering machine saying, “We’ve got to work on your phobias.”

Q. What are your phobias?
A. He thinks I need to trust the free market more.

Q. And did you work on it?
A. Well, I told him he could work on mine if he’d let me work on his.

Q. What was your worst moment?
A. After I visited the U.S. National Whitewater Training Center in Charlotte my high school guidance councilor wrote to tell me he was appalled that I would paddle my kayak down a concrete river and then praise the experience in print. That week about 20 people asked me how I could paddle in a concrete trench calling itself a river.

Q. How could you?
A. I’m actually doing it as research. I’m trying to write a long article about the way we are recreating nature all around us-climbing walls, fake rivers, hunting preserves. It’s all part of the same human impulse to engineer the real world out of existence. Deep down inside I really mistrust the modern world. I think I would have been happy in the 18th century as sort of a mystic nature poet.

Q. What do readers seem to expect from your column?
A. One reader says he expects me to mention deer in each column. Another says he likes it when I write about rivers.  Another says I should write about kudzu more.

Q. Are you a tree-hugger?
A. I not only hug trees, I hug bushes and perennial plants. The only thing I don’t hug is annuals. I once tried to hug a river, but I’ll save that story for another column.

Q. Are you a communist?
A. No, I’m actually more of a post-hippie Deep South anarchist.

Q. What do you plan to write about this coming year?
A. I want to explore more of the area’s natural areas.  I have yet to write about Camp Croft and 40-acre Rock and Jones Gap State Park and Lake Jocassee. I haven’t written about paddling the Tyger or the Enoree rivers. And of course there are vacations. We’re going to Alaska for two weeks in July. That will be good for at least two or three columns.

Q. If you had any advice for readers of the Kudzu Telegraph, what would it be?
A. Keep your ear to the rail. Slow down. Realize the world is bigger than we are. Point north at every opportunity to keep yourself oriented.

Q. Any last comments before the next year of columns begins?
A. Did you see the story about that fat kid shooting the 1,000 pound hog named Fred? How could I let that slide past? Maybe that’s where I’ll start next week.

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