I am an avid collector of books, a bibliophile. Of nature
books in particular. So I was understandably excited when I recently
acquired a signed, first-edition copy of North
with the Spring, the first (and most difficult to find) of Edwin Way
Teale’s landmark American Seasons series, written between the late 1940s
and the mid-’60s. This purchase completed my collection of signed first
editions of this four-volume series.
But books are not
mere shelf ornaments. Their power and their value are in their insights, not
their endpapers. So as I was “leafing” through North with the Spring, a passage about seasonal foliage stirred my
interest, and held my attention. In describing the oldest trees at
Monticello, the late Mr. Teale, a talented naturalist, writer and
photographer, wrote that Mr.
Jefferson “had walked beneath their boughs, rested in their shade, seen
them against blue sky and red sunset, watched them in wind and rain.”
He continued, “Now they were clothed in a new installment
of green. For the leaves, life was new. For the trees, the events of spring
represented merely an old, old sequence.
One hundred twenty, one hundred fifty times, or more, a fresh mantle of
leaves had taken the place of those which had fallen in autumn. Their
green varied from tree to tree, almost from branch to branch. And beyond,
along the mountainside, the shadings of spring were manifold ... A thousand
and one subtle shadings of green, lost in summer, characterize the new
This passage reminded me that the certainty of spring was a wonderful blessing in a world of startling
and sudden changes, where yesterday’s answers are today’s question
marks, where yesterday’s high-flying corporate giant may be today’s
penny stock, and where yesterday’s brand name is today’s nostalgic
But the trees endure,
the land endures, to be touched every year at this time with a gentle warmth
that transforms browns to greens, and coaxes from the earth a rising
tide of colors across a landscape suddenly fresh and new again. Guaranteed.
And that brings me to electric cooperatives. No,
cooperatives are not as ancient as the seasons. And no, we’re not a force
of nature. (Electricity itself is, but that’s another story.) But electric
cooperatives HAVE built a record of reliability, of being there for our
member-consumers, year-in and year-out for three generations.
We were formed during the 1930s and ’40s in a thousand
communities across the nation, in 46 states, where no existing utilities
were willing to serve. So men and
women embarked on one of the greatest self-help efforts of all time,
providing themselves with electric service. And forming cooperatives to
do so. Today, Virginia’s 13 local electric cooperatives deliver reliable
electricity at cost to over 350,000 homes and businesses in rural areas,
small towns and emerging suburbs from the Cumberland Gap to Chincoteague
Island, from Lunenburg to Leesburg.
You’ve probably read or heard that the electric utility
industry is changing. As discussed on this page last issue by Virginia’s
three State Corporation Commissioners,
some parts of Virginia have been opened up to alternate electricity
suppliers. All areas will be opened up by January 1, 2004. When Virginia
Energy Choice comes to your area, there may be competitive suppliers
interested in selling electricity to you. If so, then you will have a choice
as to the company that supplies your electricity.
But even if you
decide to buy your electricity from another supplier, your cooperative will
continue to deliver it to you, just as we’ve always done. And if you
take no action, or affirmatively select your cooperative, then your
cooperative will continue to be your electric supplier, just like always.
Your cooperative has been your community’s utility of need
in the past. We hope to be your utility of choice in the future.
Cooperatives endure. Not because we’re reaching skyward for the next new
thing. Instead, because we’re deeply and firmly rooted right here, in your