Time to say goodbye
This time of year always makes me feel a little like I’m exiting an exhilarating carnival ride. The excitement and hectic days of the summer season are over, and with cool temperatures, come the sedate and colorful days of fall.
But truthfully, there’s also another reason why I feel like I’m exiting a ride. I have resigned my position as associate editor at the Star Journal. And, let me say, what a ride it’s been.
This Tuesday, when I walk out of my office for the last time, it will almost be the exact anniversary date when I took this job seven years ago. From the very beginning I kept a copy of every Star Journal since my first assignment, and now that stack is close to three feet high.
The other day I got to thumbing through these old copies and it came to me that as a feature writer, just how very fortunate I’ve been to record the stories of the people who live and work in the Northwoods. Almost all these folks became my friends and it gave me great satisfaction to seek out and then write about their accomplishments and triumphs. Many of their tales inspired me in a very profound way. There were stories that made me laugh and many that made me choke back tears.
One memorable assignment was when our troops came home a few years back. Watching those soldiers march proudly into the Rhinelander High School gym made my heart swell. And then when all the speeches and accolades were over, warriors who had been gone so many long months, were once again in the arms of their loved ones. I was crying so hard I could hardly see through my camera lens.
Any story I ever did on a family’s Alzheimer journey or cancer fight always brought tears to my eyes too, and my wish was always to promote awareness so a cure could be found for these devastating diseases.
This job has afforded me many unforgettable experiences too. I got to ride in a hot air balloon over the Northwoods countryside; interview Sig Hansen and Jonathon Hillstrand, two of my heroes from the Deadliest Catch show and been privy to local projects when they were just in their building stages. I learned about the creatures of the Northwoods when I did stories at Wild Instincts and I always enjoyed my visits to the Kemp Research station where I came to meet some wonderful scientists and students who visit there.
One of my beats was the Oneida County board and while there were some long meetings where I cursed the hard plastic audience chairs, deep down I’ve always admired these dedicated supervisors who take time out of their lives to help make this county a better place for all. And I came to know just about everyone in the courthouse and I admire these folks too, who work hard at making our county’s business run smoothly.
People often ask me how I came to write a food column. It was an assignment I inherited when I was hired and I actually laughed out when I got it, because in reality, I’ve never considered myself much of a foodie. This column turned out to be one of the most challenging of my journalism career. To write about a subject, week in and out, with a picture and recipes all tied together was a wonderful lesson in ingenuity and creativeness. I came to share a lot of my life through this column. Faithful readers learned about my homestead, my chickens and pets including Crawdad the cat and Bubs and Homey, my dogs.
As a writer you often wonder if what you pen makes any difference to others but there have been many times when I’ve been out and about and gracious Star Journal readers take time to compliment me on a story. And there have been plenty of times when I’ve attended a funeral and there, propped up among precious family photos, was a framed copy of a story I did on that person when they were alive. Those instances always touch me deeply.
At this point, I don’t know what my future holds but I’m optimistic that the right opportunity will come along. Sometimes you just have to spread your wings, shake off the old and get on another ride. Life is indeed short and you have to make the most of every moment on this earth. While venturing out into the unknown is certainly a scary prospect, that very uncertainty can be an inspiration to even bigger adventures and brighter possibilities ahead.
But I will admit these past seven years, have been quite a trip.
The Last Good-Bye Cocktail
1 oz. cognac
3/4 oz. cherry brandy
1/4 oz. triple sec
1/2 oz. lime juice
1 tsp. grenadine syrup
Pour into an old-fashioned glass over ice. Garnish with a lime or cherry.
Editor’s note: I think I speak for everyone at the Star Journal when I say I’m sad to see you go. We’ll miss your sense of humor, authenticity and your free spirited attitude toward life. Thank you, Mary Ann, for bringing us along on your weekly adventures. We wish you only the best for your next trip!