Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 12, 2013

A good no-news week despite never-ending showers and early-rising mastif

— — It’s a no-news week. One I embark on each year around the first of May. Five days of vacation surrounded by two weekends, punctuated by the smell of lilacs, the sight of peonies ready to bloom and hours spent with my hands buried in dirt planting summer flowers.

I am blessed to love my job. But it is all-consuming at times. Breaking news knows no regular work schedule. It can occur early in the morning or in the middle of the night. Once, last month, I was actually updating our website at 3 a.m.

I am proud to say that I am slightly obsessed with keeping our print and multimedia products as up-to-date as possible.

But with obsession comes the risk of burnout. And so I take a week off each year during the first of May — a week when spring’s blooms and smells are at their finest. A week when I can plant beautiful annuals in shades of coral, hot pink and purple without too much fear of frost.

lll

The rain is an uncooperative guest on my vacation. I manage to make it to the greenhouse and bring home flats of flowers before the showers start. But the never-ending sprinkles forestall any all-out gardening projects.

I plant a few containers on my basement porch, then decide that gardening under a roof is rather gloomy. I yearn for rays of sunshine. Instead, it’s back inside for an afternoon of “Grey’s Anatomy” reruns.

Wednesday morning, with more rain in the forecast, we decide to sleep in. It’s supposed to be a morning of indulgence, one in which the coffee pot is not turned on before sunrise.

The Neapolitan mastiff doesn’t like this plan. He tries to stir me with the customary nose-to-the-face routine. I keep my eyes closed tight and feign sleep. After several more unsuccessful attempts to get me on my feet, he tries a new approach — tossing any and all available items down the third-floor steps.

The clothing and shoes are not so bad, but when he moves on to miscellaneous household items the ruckus proves to be too annoying to ignore. Who knew a plastic cleaning bucket could be so loud when “ka-thumping” down hardwood steps?

The sun is rising, the coffee brewing.

lll

I knew we had birds — lots of birds — inhabiting the land around our house. Heaven knows their early-morning chirping and singing can be quite irritating in the pre-dawn hours.

On this day I watch them from the kitchen window. Three blue jays, a pair of cardinals, a golden-winged warbler, a red-headed woodpecker, multiple sparrows and wrens and a red-tailed hawk all make an appearance on the back porch within a 30-minute time frame. I’m a little surprised by the diverse number of species.

I wonder how often they visit on days when I’m too busy or preoccupied to notice.

lll

A no-news week doesn’t actually mean no news. It’s definition is closer to “news in moderation” — like a normal person’s news week. Print or electronic edition of the Daily Telegraph in the morning, a half dozen visits to our website throughout the day and two hours or less of cable TV news in a 24-hour period.

Normal. Right?

When a story on the Telegraph’s website alerted me to an upcoming verdict in the Jodi Arias trial, I could not resist tuning in to see the outcome. Like much of America, I am burned out on the continuing coverage. Yet I am curious to know if the jury will find her guilty.

The verdict is much more satisfying than those handed down in the O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony trials. Typically I watch such verdicts read aloud while in the middle of the newsroom, surrounded by fellow journalists. It was a little strange to hear “guilty” while standing in my kitchen.

After less than five minutes — and endless prattle by television commentators — I turn the channel. There are benefits to being at home.

lll

The sun finally arrives, and I am up early to greet its appearance.

Hour by hour I plant various containers and hanging baskets. Blooms in shades of purple and pink are nestled beside vivid oranges and flaming reds.

A hint of white. A touch of magenta. And a plethora of vines, with variegated leaves of lemon-lime and deep green, spilling over edges.

The mastiff, perhaps slightly chagrined by his previous early-morning temper tantrum, is on his best behavior. He and the Labs relax on the lawn and watch the robins search for earthworms.

By the end of the day I am tired, but not yet ready to go inside. I notice rich, black soil is caked under my new, plum-colored manicure. It’s an annual tradition.

I walk to the upper corner of the yard and pick a bouquet of lilacs. Turning around, I scan the property, and smile at the sight of apple blossoms and summer blooms.

The fragrance of the lilacs wafting through the house will be worth the allergy symptoms that follow.

Despite the rain, it’s been a good no-news week.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry

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