By Coulter Fussell
This month marks the one year anniversary that I have been writing a column for the North Mississippi Herald. In that year I have been called sophomoric, a tramp (depending on which way you read it…and I suggest you read it in the way that calls me a tramp), my parenting skills have been berated on the internet for thousands to read, and I have been nicknamed ‘Turtle.’ So, I think all in all, I’ve done a really good job of representing myself.
Writing for the paper started for me when I was a fill-in for Mickey Howley’s ‘Street Talk’ column. He went skiing in Germany for a month and apparently they do not have any sort of written language or internet access in Germany because he was unable to write while vacationing. So, thanks to Mickey for letting me fill-in while he travelled to some wordless time warp.
I’ve learned a lot about Water Vallians since writing for the paper. Judging from the responses to my year’s worth of columns I can conclude that Water Vallians are most passionate about turtles. Hands down. Forget Walmart, forget beer…it’s turtles. After writing a column that included an impassioned paragraph about seeing a kid purposefully run over a turtle, I have yet to live three days in a row here without someone telling me a turtle story.
Some turtle stories are boring like, “Hey. I saw a turtle.” But some are action-packed and involve great, exaggerated hand gestures in the teary-eyed retelling. People text me pictures of turtles they see on the road. If there is a two-headed turtle story floating around on the internet you best believe it will get emailed to me by at least two Water Vallians. It’s like I’m the go-to turtle person. The queen of all things turtles. This might be the greatest thing to have come out of my writing for the paper as I do love a turtle. We should collect our mutual passion for turtles and host an annual Yalobusha Turtle Festival. I can see the 5k t-shirt now: “Water Valley: Where Slow and Steady Wins the Race.”
The second most popular subject I wrote about was getting a public swimming pool. Water Valley definitely wants to go swimming. After I wrote about that I had many people ask me when we were getting the pool and how the progress on that was going. Look, folks, I’m a busy lady. I throw out ideas but I need you all to help follow through. One single columnist does not a public swimming pool make. Ask your elected officials about a public pool. Find out from them what it would take. I bet they might be into it since elections are coming up or maybe just because they might want you to go swimming, too. Everybody wants the pool. And it doesn’t hurt to ask, they can only say ‘no.’ And when they do you just put up a fuss until they say ‘yes.’ They’ll do anything to shut you up. I learned this effective technique from my three-year-old.
Most fun for me is how this column has served as a platform for me to publish my collection of Wagner Letters. I know that aspect of this column is not for everybody. But the letters are fascinating to me and I love that there are others interested, as well. If anyone would like to see the letters in person then stop by Yalo Studio, I love to show them.
I appreciate everyone that reads this each week and the positive ( and negative! Hey, I dish it…I can take it) responses I’ve gotten. Thanks, Turtles!