The honor justifies the drive

Published 9:25 am Friday, December 5, 2014

There was a time earlier in my life when getting up before dawn to take a trip anywhere held a promise of excitement. Now I just usually resent any intrusion into my sleep. Nonetheless, I got myself on the road early Tuesday and made what would become a five-hour drive to The Homestead in Hot Springs.

The purpose of which, in case you haven’t read heard, was to accept an award on behalf of The Tidewater News for the coverage of agriculture in Western Tidewater.

As stated in the article on Wednesday, I was privileged to accept the award — which included not only a well-made plaque, but also a delicious lunch, grateful accolades from several people attending the convention and an overnight stay in a resort that made me feel rich for a day.

But it deserves repeating to state that the credit also goes to my coworkers who did their part in what stories needed reporting, taking photos and designing pages.

No less important are the people who were either interview subjects — and you know who you are — or directed me to stories. Among the latter are Neil Clark, Janet Spencer, Celia Brockway and Chris Drake. I cite them in particular because they have been my chief contacts in the past couple of years. Thank you all.


Now that the meal’s been eaten, the award presented and the bed slept in, it’s time to turn my attention on what the paper can do in the upcoming year to inform people about agriculture and forestry. As always, I ask for your suggestions on issues or features. Please contact me — or any of us in the newsroom — at 562-3187, or email me at

I live to serve.


Speaking of which, I think it’s my duty to advise any of you thinking of taking a trip to the mountains this season or any other: When the signs decree you should drive at 25 mph or 30 mph, they mean it. There were no close calls for me in spite of rain and fog while motoring both ways, yet I couldn’t help but feel gravity — such an unforgiving force if you’re not alert — while making my way up around and down the mountain roads. The awe-inspiring views of the landscape seen from the corners of my eyes were kept in check by the possibility that any one of them could have been my last.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is a staff writer at The Tidewater News. He highly recommends a visit to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. Contact him at 562-3187 or