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Some things surprise me
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Surprises come in many categories and degrees. Some are sudden and may be astonishing, some develop gradually and some are just there to be discovered as one becomes aware.

On the Saturday morning of the annual meeting of Dawson County Homeowners Civic Association, Feb. 25, I received one of the sudden variety. I was truly astonished when Association President Jane Graves presented me with the "Mike Brown YOU CARE" award.

It is true that I do care about what happens in Dawson County, my home for the last 30 years, but I have been so inactive in public affairs for the last several years that I honestly feel unworthy of recognition.

Instead of speakers, that meeting featured displays by a number of nonprofit organizations serving many aspects of life in our community. As I strolled around the exhibits in the library, I realized that many of them had been established and/or grown during my 30 years and that I had been involved one way or another with most of them. That's what happens when one lives as long as I have!

I was humbled and grateful to be so honored, and I will continue to care and to encourage others to participate.

The emergence of many early signs of spring has happened gradually, but they are now so surprisingly obvious that we begin to fear a sudden freeze. It has happened in March, you know.

For now, however, we can enjoy the colorful surprises of flowering shrubs and trees and be grateful that we have so far escaped the terrible storms which accompanied warm temperatures elsewhere.

Dawson County hosting playoffs for Class AA state basketball tournament (for boys) may have been a surprise to some, but the Tigers going on to the quarterfinals was exactly what that team planned and expected.

Two discoveries which somewhat shock me are not so pleasant.

One is the realization that our public school system is really being threatened. Having been part of that system for years, I am naturally defensive.

Of course there is always room for improvement, but as I observe schools in this county, I am amazed at the good things that are happening. Surely this system is not alone in that.

Just as surprising is watching legislators and other politicians, themselves generally the product of a public school system, being so adversely critical and hastening to laud and even help finance private schools instead of working to uplift the ones which provide the basis of a democracy.

Aren't your schools worth defending?

Not only are some contemporary politicians demeaning our schools, they do the same to each other.

I cringe at the boldness of some outlandish epithets that I read and hear, from individual citizens as well as public figures.

When did freedom of speech become freedom to use derogatory language, even outright lies, to characterize someone whose opinions are different?

Or to create statements and present them as facts?

I find situations such as those to be not only surprising, but distasteful, unnecessary and dangerous.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.