Spring Endures
By Richard G. Johnstone, Jr., Editor

Richard Johnstone

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 foliage.”

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 memory.

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. 

Spring endures. 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 community.


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