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Dear County Agent Guy

By Staff | Dec 30, 2019

A sparkling clean annum is about to slowly emerge from the cosmic car wash. We begin a new year and a new decade (welcome to the 20s!) with a triple-foam rinse, a deluxe wax job and an invigoratingly power-jetted undercarriage.

Before we muddy our freshly polished paint job by roaring down the mucky road of the future, it might behoove us to glance back at the fishtail tracks we carved during the past twelvemonth.

It’s a challenge to recall every little thing that happens in a year, especially as time goes on and your memory begins to resemble a tattered old flyswatter. Thankfully, my computer saves everything I write and my smart phone saves images of many things I see. Scrolling through my photo roll reveals a person who seems to be overly obsessed with restaurant meals.

Speaking of pleasant things, my wife became bionic this past June. Most people wouldn’t think of spinal fusion surgery as an enjoyable way to pass a morning, and the immediate aftermath of the operation was undeniably unfun. But now that the healing process is complete, my wife reports nearly no back pain. That is definitely a pleasant outcome.

Another delightful surprise from this past year was seeing a chapter of my book, Dear County Agent Guy, appear in the pages of Reader’s Digest. I had little to do with this other than writing the book. Chloe, my publicist, deserves all of the credit for this remarkable feat. I highly recommend getting a publicist if you don’t already have one. It’s nice to be able to say, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to take that up with my publicist,” when faced with such tough questions as “Who ate the last of the leftover spaghetti and put the empty Tupperware bowl back in the fridge?”

Travel has a way of broadening one’s horizons. Our skies grew much wider this past summer when my wife and I voyaged to Galveston for a speaking engagement. This involved flying, which meant passing through TSA checkpoints. My wife and her new hardware breezed right on through, but the machine beeped angrily when it sensed that I was wearing a belt buckle. I had to hold my arms out and get wanded by a TSA agent as my jeans slowly slid toward my knees.

We decided to use a ride sharing service, an experience that broadened our horizons even further. For instance, our first Lyft driver was a gentleman who grew up in Cuba and had immigrated to Texas. When I mentioned that our goals included visiting Johnson Space Center, our driver opined that the whole moon landing thing was a nothing but a hoax that had been foisted upon a gullible public by the government and Hollywood.

I told him that I was a kid when Apollo 11 took place. While I didn’t personally witness the mission, I and millions of others watched it unfold on live TV. He remained skeptical.

I informed our driver that a satellite called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently circling the moon. The LRO has used its high-resolution cameras to capture detailed images of the Apollo 11 landing site. The photos show the discarded base of the LEM, along with the scientific instruments and the garbage the astronauts left behind.

The driver then declared that he’d changed his mind and now believes we went to the moon. I think what swayed him was the mention of garbage.

There are numerous pictures of water on my phone’s camera roll, from Galveston Bay to our garden. The two are strikingly similar, although I haven’t spotted any dolphins in the garden. At least not yet.

We met numerous new and interesting people over the past year, although many of their names now escape me. Maybe I should have taken more photos of people and fewer of food.

One of my top photos for the year was taken at 36,000 feet as we winged our way northward from Galveston. Amidst the marble canyons of the sky, a glowering thunderhead boils up toward the edge of space. You can see the entire precipitation cycle: the roiling updraft of hot, humid air, the condensation into an angry jumble of amethyst, the alabaster rain column spilling from the cloud’s base.

But my favorite photo of the year was taken at our farm. An evening thunderstorm had just crashed over us, leaving in its wake a stunning rainbow that perfectly bracketed our barn.

It’s been said that a pot of gold can be found at the end of a rainbow. This is true. For me, the treasure is coming back home at the end of a journey.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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