Keep on the Sunny Side

Corruption at city hall. Police brutality. Looting. The coronavirus. Whether local, national, or international, there’s a lot of bad news out there. It would be easy to spend all day moaning about what’s wrong with the world.

But I’m choosing not to. At least for today, I’m focusing on the sunny side of life. After all, it’s summer, the sunniest season of all, right?

Here in my hometown of Rocky Mount, the state audit of the city government has finally been completed and released. One of the most scathing discoveries is that a councilman has received “free” utilities to the tune of more than $47,000.  Rather than admit he’s bilked the City and resign, he’s dug in his heels, denying the truth of the state auditor’s report and instead claiming he’s a victim of racism.

What?? I know. Crazy. Crazy enough that many reasonable, utility-paying citizens don’t want to live within the city limits anymore and be subjected to such shenanigans. There’s talk about moving.

I could leave this corruption behind myself. But I love my Rocky Mount home. I love my neighbors, my neighborhood, and my five-minute drive to Harris Teeter.

And I love my mature yard with this special tree that my young grandsons enjoy climbing.

up a tree

A weekend trip to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, helped me stay on the sunny side of life. Gone was the Covid-19 flashing message I saw a few weeks ago telling me to quarantine myself for 14 days if I was just arriving. Instead, I was greeted by “Welcome back, summer residents and guests.”

And the rhododendron, the mountain’s version of the azalea, was in bloom.


What’s a happier sight than a boy and a dog posing in a mountain backyard?

boy with dog

North Carolina is a “variety vacationland,” to quote an old state marketing slogan, and from the mountains to the coast, I’ve been finding the good in life. For example, look at all the shibumis on the beach at Emerald Isle.

Never heard of a shibumi? Here’s the story. Two brothers and a best friend grew up visiting Emerald Isle. The one drawback to their otherwise wonderful beach trips, they’ve said, was having to deal with flimsy beach umbrellas and heavy tents. So now as young adults, they’ve invented the shibumi. American entrepreneurship in action!

They’re selling a lot of these pricey but oh so worth it beach shades all over the United States. I think it’s safe to say Emerald Isle, the beach that inspired them, is definitely a strong market.

shabumi city

“Well, there’s a dark and a troubled side of life
There’s a bright and a sunny side too.
But if you meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view.
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we keep on the sunny side of life.”

I often remind myself of these lyrics from “Keep on the Sunny Side” by the country singers the White family. You might recall the song from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?

My three-year-old grandson looks as though he already sees the “dark and troubled side of life” as he gazes out on the Atlantic Ocean. But since he’s wearing Christmas pajamas while eating watermelon, I like to think he too is choosing the bright and sunny side.

eating watermelon


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