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Documenting the county in 24 hours

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By Meaghan Downs

I must be insane to be standing here, taking a photo of the courthouse at 12:45 a.m.
Let’s be clear here: I am not a night owl.
The night, even last Saturday night with its sleepy August cricket chirps and lingering smoke of dinner barbecues, does not appeal to me.
You will not find me conscious at midnight, sitting outside on a porch on a warm summer night to contemplate life after all the lights have been snuffed out except for the moon.
I like sleep. I love sleep.
I do not like having to wake up in the middle of the night to take photographs.
Which is why I questioned my sanity when I decided to embark on a project documenting 24 hours of Anderson County for our upcoming sample edition of The Anderson News.
This was the plan: I would snap a photo for every hour in a 24-hour period to represent an event, person or place at that hour in Anderson County.
At first I toyed with the idea of doing all photographs back-to-back in a 24-hour time block.
Then I realized that would most certainly kill me. I value my life as much as I worship sleep.
I also value positive relationships with my fellow men and women.
Disaster avoided, Lawrenceburg.
So I’ve been sneaking out to take photos here and there over the last several days, and enlisted the assistance of our Anderson News intern Bria Granville and local photographer Jason Collins for a few of the pictures.
I knew the task would be difficult even with their help, given my utter dependence on being snug in my own bed by about 9 p.m.
I scheduled a few photos. I planned to go to Florida Tile for the night shift safety celebration at 11 p.m. I wanted a photo of a local family.
I snapped photos during Walmart’s busiest social occasion: Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Bleary-eyed, I shuffled into Walmart — one of the few places in Lawrenceburg open past midnight — as planned at 1 a.m.
I visited the small congregation of Goshen Baptist Church last Sunday to document its 11 a.m. worship, clicking away while heads bowed in prayer.
Many of the photos in the series were unplanned. The rest I wanted to play by ear to see who or what I’d encounter.
Around 6 p.m. last Friday night, I met father and son team Dale and Julius Noel, putting up hay in an effort to finish work before an impending thunderstorm that never did materialize this last weekend.
I passed the Wheels of Time group camped out in front of Dairy Queen, where I learned they meet the third Saturday night of every month, outside of when they meet up at Sonic on Thursdays and downtown Lawrenceburg on the first Friday of every month.
“Don’t you guys get sick of each other?” I asked.
No, they told me from their circle of camping chairs. It’s like a family reunion.
You may not know this, but La Isla waiter Oracio Garcia can balance seven hot plates on his arms (protected by a base of oven mitts) to bring to hungry customers.
The night I visited La Isla, he only had six plates on one arm, but still. Impressive.
A young Goshen Baptist Church member, Shea Boyer, explained to me Sunday in whispers about the stuffed animals she brought with her to worship.
One stuffed dog perched on the back of a wooden pew. A stuffed zebra found its way eventually onto the top of Shea’s head.
I made record time driving out to Duncan Road on Monday night to photograph the Zigo family, and seeing the fog descend over a valley as the sun set behind it was definitely worth the trip. Talking with the Zigo family made it worth it, too.
After two years working as a community reporter in Anderson County, I am still surprised that I’m surprised by Lawrenceburg.
I’m surprised that this is probably the second or third time I’ve written that sentence, and I’ll probably write it again.
For anyone who has ever said to me that Anderson County is boring: perhaps you’re not looking hard enough.
Even at 3 a.m., when I was too exhausted for words or speech or involuntary muscle movements like keeping my eyes open, I even enjoyed photographing the eerie quiet of Glensboro Road.
Not boring in the least.
As I write this column, the project is still unfinished. I have a few photos to go before I can sleep for good.
As the illustrious P. Diddy once said, “Sleep is forbidden.” I plan to have that cross-stitched on a sampler for my home at some point.
I can promise you this: I’m looking forward to the early morning photos, when the darkness recedes.
When Anderson County begins again, another 24 hours of work and food and conversation and family and finally, a little sleep until the next dawn.

I wanted to take a moment (or a few sentences) in this week’s column to thank everyone who submitted first day of school photos last week.
We received about 60 photos in all, including photos shared and posted to our Facebook wall.
As much as I wish we could print all 60 photos in the paper, we had to make the difficult decision of printing just a few pages of your wonderful photos.
Never fear, there is a place all photos can be seen: first day of photos we’ve received will be up online to view at www.theandersonnews.com.

Contact News Editor Meaghan Downs at mdowns@theandersonnews.com or on Twitter at @ANewsMDowns.