We have achy feet, sore backs, bloodshot eyes and tinges of carpal tunnel syndrome from relentless typing and scribbling notes. Acid reflux has been our constant companion for the past three days and we’ve missed more sleep than a typical first-semester college freshman pledging a fraternity.
We’ve survived another Beltwide Cotton Conference.
We’ve already filed as many stories as we usually do in a month and have notebooks filled with enough information to write a book on cotton production. Now, if we can just decipher all that hen scratching when we get back to our offices maybe we can make use of this stuff. But we’re apt to wonder if those squiggly lines are Gs or Rs and to ponder if it really makes any difference and then ask ourselves when our handwriting became totally illegible.
By now we’ve forgotten where we had dinner last night but do recall that the sea bass was tasty and that the wine was exceptional, which might explain this headache that simply will not go away.
We’ve shaken enough hands, hugged enough necks and air-kissed enough cheeks to realize that an upper respiratory infection is likely only a few hours from establishing residence in our collective sinus cavities and we seem to remember a similar malady afflicting us about this time last year.
We’ve spent time with old friends we see only at Beltwide and we are once again grateful for the opportunity to sit around and contemplate and “remember the time that….” We’ve laughed ourselves hoarse, commiserated with those of our group who have suffered through one kind of calamity or another since last year and we promised to stay in touch better, knowing that we probably won’t.
We’ve shared photos of grandchildren, pets and big fish (at least some of us caught fish last year), and we’ve asked about family and jobs and where did you go on vacation. We compared views on movies and books and did our best to avoid talk of politics and religion.
We learned a lot about cotton, met some new folks, added a business card or two to our bulging wallets (more cards than money, sadly) and set up interviews for later in the year. We were once again reminded that we work with the best people on the planet and reminded ourselves of how lucky we are for the privilege of counting cotton farmers among our best friends.
We huddled together in the media room, professionally manned by National Cotton Council staff and sponsored by Monsanto and we all agreed that this is by far the best treatment we, the ag media, get from any organization.
We sometimes think Beltwide is just an extension of the Christmas Holidays, complete with a similar frenzy, anticipation, hard work to prepare for, joys aplenty and a bit of sadness when it’s all over. We anticipate it with a mixture of dread and enthusiasm, knowing we’ll wear ourselves out but looking forward to the experience. It was a good Beltwide in Atlanta.
Let’s do it again next year in Orlando.