Life is good, when we think it’s good

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After a couple of weeks of serious articles about politics and guns, I wanted to write about some of the good things happening in our lives here in southwest Georgia. It is easy to get bogged down in all the negatives going on in our country, but you have to remember to balance that with the positives.

• Henry’s ribbon. Forgive me if I start with my grandson, Henry. He has made the transition to Pre-K and is a Bulldog at John Johnson Elementary School in Bainbridge.

He recently won a medal for winning a race. Then, in his very first week at John Johnson, he received a ribbon for being the best student for the week in his class. Way to go, Henry! With a medal and a ribbon under his belt, he told his parents he now wants a trophy.

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• Rain. We have been waiting for a long time for the kind of daily rains that we have been getting lately. I can’t even remember the last time I might have said, “I wish it would stop raining.”

The creeks are starting to rise and the fields are holding water. It is true that we have some $8 corn needing to be harvested in the fields, but when you pray for rain, you can’t be selective about when it comes.

As we get a bit tired of the rain, remember that most of the country is in the midst of the worst drought in more than 50 years. Even my own beloved Compass Lake is still two feet below normal despite the heavy rains. Give thanks for this blessing.

• Football season. This has to rank high on most everyone’s list. Last Friday night, Mary Lou and I attended the first game of my nephew, Davis Ponder, whose SGA Warriors played against Ashford Academy. Despite their last second loss, Davis played well with 11 tackles.

My granddaughter, Laura, was in the stands with us during the game. Despite erupting into a few spontaneous and unrelated Auburn cheers along the way, she mostly cheered for her cousin, Davis, despite having not a clue about what was going on.

All the area schools are about to begin their seasons with their first Friday night games. Generations in our communities have cheered the local teams on to victory. The battles won and lost on the field are told for decades as we relive that part of our youth.

Saturday will bring the college football season to life. Who will win the bragging rights for those around us? Florida State is in the hunt. Georgia has a great defense and returning quarterback. Auburn has a lot of young talent. Alabama will have its usual team of great athletes. Georgia Tech lost several close games last year and only needs a few breaks to be in the chase.

There is nothing like college football in the South. No matter what troubles we may have, we can take a break and cheer our favorite team on to victory.

• Road repair. For more than a century, Donalsonville has worked to solve the drainage problems that come with building the town in a Mayhaw swamp. The Presbyterian Church, on Lot No. 1 in the original city plat, burned down in 1944 only to flood ever since.

With the Department of Transportation finally awarding the contracts for turn lanes and drainage improvements, construction began earlier this year along U.S. 84 in Donalsonville. The resulting chaos had many citizens on edge, complaining about the inconvenience.

However, now that the project is close to being finished, you can see that it will not only handle the water and traffic, but is a visual improvement to the downtown area. My hat is off to the DOT and the various construction companies that worked literally day and night to make the project successful.

Congratulations to two old friends from my days in Atlanta, Johnny Floyd and Jay Shaw. They were just named as the chairman and vice chairman of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Their roots are here in south Georgia and it is good to see those leadership positions being filled by our friends.

• Crops. This might go along with the rain a bit earlier in this article, but the fact remains that in spite of the record drought, we live in a region blessed with extensive irrigation, quality soil, and great farmers.

Cotton, peanuts, corn, and vegetables have been the lifeblood of southwest Georgia for many years. This year will be no different. With new technology, improved seeds, and enhanced farming practices this area will once again have a solid year.

Despite what business or vocation you may be in, we all benefit from a successful crop by our area farmers.

• Trees. This is a bit different from crops. Trees in a community are a long term investment. Bainbridge has been blessed with live oaks throughout the community. They have done an excellent job in preserving and protecting those irreplaceable landmarks.

Donalsonville also was a community of trees, water oaks to be precise. No one could have known when they were planted almost a century ago that the life expectancy of that species was approximately 75 years. For decades we have seen those magnificent oaks disappear.

A lot of people have worked hard on the Better Way Project. In just a few weeks, we will see trees once again line the downtown streets of Donalsonville. Thanks to all that have made this possible.

• Conclusion. Despite all that ails us as communities and a nation, we also have to stop and realize the many blessings we have from living where we do. I never expected to live in a small Southern town. The big city lights were a huge attraction for me in my youth.

How lucky I was to wind up in a place that embraced my family and made us feel at home. Donalsonville, Bainbridge, Colquitt, Blakely and indeed all of this part of the state is our home. For that, we will always be grateful.

Dan Ponder can be reached at