From The Editor

It is the first mild day of March:

Each minute sweeter than before …

There is a blessing in the air

— William Wordsworth

March can be a fickle month, but having grown up in the 1960s and 1970s in rural Guilford County, March brought the promise of hope to my family.

While snow and ice still were probabilities, something about my father shifted during the year’s third month. Subtle, nevertheless unmistakable.

He began making lists and outlines of the vegetables he planned to plant in our garden. Even though the temperature often was chilly, he spent time surveying his plot.

It wasn’t a huge spot behind our house, but it was large enough to be bountiful. My four siblings and I spent time tilling, fertilizing, planting, caring for, harvesting and, finally, consuming or canning — and had a grand time. Under my father’s guidance, we shared with our neighbors the vegetables we grew — string beans, crowder peas, cucumbers, peppers, squash, tomatoes and more.

As my father’s garden flourished, so did our understanding of him.

Born in a tiny community along the Pamlico Sound in the 1920s, my dad developed an appreciation for and the importance of satisfying one of the most basic needs of survival — nourishment.

The youngest of nine children, my father spent his early years close to my grandmother while my grandfather and four older uncles fished. In that remote, windswept coastal fishing village — and under my grandmother’s gentle yet watchful eye — he learned to cook, care for relatives and friends, develop a love of poetry, and cultivate a garden. The Great Depression brought hardship, and what once had been the family’s successful, statewide seafood business languished.

And then, in 1943, the U.S. Army “invited” my father to serve. In 1944, he marched from France to Berlin. When he wasn’t in combat, he cooked, preparing meals for hungry, scared and often wounded young soldiers.

My father returned home in 1946, and after a difficult time adjusting to peacetime America, in 1947, he entered college, earned a bachelor’s degree, moved to Stokesdale, met my mother and became a beloved school principal — while raising five children.

Heroes define and shape our lives. He was — and always will be — my mentor, best friend, shelter, protector. And, yes, my hero.  OH   

Mary Best


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