Story last updated at 3/25/2009 - 10:57 am
If you've passed by my now-famous window in the past few months, you may have noticed a plant that looks, to the untrained eye, like a couple of sticks stuck in some dirt. I've overheard passersby commenting on it, so I think it might be time to tell its story.
First of all, I don't know what kind of plant it is. When I inherited it from a friend who was leaving town, its sticks (stalks? Stems?) were about six feet long, with palm-like fronds protruding from the ends. The branches bent every which way.
When I moved out of a house and on to a boat, this wonky "Dr. Seuss" plant couldn't come with me. Transport, especially in the middle of winter, was difficult. We finally took a chance and trimmed the branches.
Trimmed is not the right word, nor is pruned, I don't think. We cut a good four or five feet off these stalks, making them look like, well, two-foot-long sticks stuck in dirt.
This was back in November. And all winter long, people mocked my poor plant, saying it was probably dead.
But now, believe it or not, the plant has sprouted. Little palm buds have appeared on the ends of the sticks. It must be spring!
My plant is quite emblematic of spring in Southeast, I think. It gives me just a little hint of hope, but not too much. Viewed from afar, my plant sure looks like a couple of sticks stuck in some dirt. And this snow and ice on the sidewalks sure looks like winter. Only when you look closely, do you realize that spring is on the way.
One of the most interesting indications of spring is the explosion in the varieties of birds you'll see around town, in the woods or at your bird feeder.
It's easy to become accustomed to the sounds of eagles, ravens, crows and gulls during the winter and think that's it for birds. It's always a bit of a surprise to suddenly start hearing the twitters and tweets of songbirds in the spring.
Did someone say Twitter?
I've been hearing a lot about Twitter these days. You may have been too.
Twitter is the latest online social networking tool, often described as "microblogging." Twitter members can "follow" each other, which means they get informed every time that person "tweets." Each "tweet" is basically a response to the question: What are you doing?
Twitter played a big role in breaking updates on the November attacks in Mumbai. The first photos of the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson River in January were transmitted by Twitter. It's become clear that beyond keeping up with what our friends are doing right now, Twitter seems well-suited for breaking news.
As a weekly newspaper, we aren't usually racing to break the news. We've got a severe disadvantage, too - our paper prints on Monday nights and doesn't hit the streets until Wednesday morning.
As many have noted, the internet is the great equalizer. The Capital City Weekly, with the right scoop, could get into the breaking news business with online updates. There are certainly times when we've rushed to get stories up online - Gov. Sarah Palin being named Sen. John McCain's running mate comes to mind - but by and large, that's a game we can't win.
There's been a lot written about the relationship between bloggers and newspapers - will blogs eventually replace newspapers? I haven't heard anyone express concern over Twitter. And why should they? Small pieces of information are transmitted over Twitter, or links to other, more in-depth sources.
And as we grapple with this increasingly greater access to information, I think there is going to be a greater and greater desire for synthesizers who pull it all together.
There also will always be a desire, I believe, to read things that aren't necessarily breaking news. Profiles of people we know, reflections on fly fishing or crafting, a peek at the week ahead.
We had a sidewalk poll a few weeks ago asking, "What do you expect from your weekly newspaper?" Consider this an ongoing question - we'd love to get your input and provide you with more of the content you turn to us for.
Of course, I can always keep you updated when my plant grows. I may even get it a Twitter account.