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Cotton-pickin' candle

December 11, 2006

The reporter looked at me suspiciously, part fear, part intrigue spreading over her face as I gave the candle to her in our newsroom.
I had been walking around a local department store earlier that day in Wichita Falls when I stumbled upon a new candle collection. One candle's scent was labeled, "Fresh Picked Cotton," complete with a picturesque scene of a boll in full bloom.
Wait a cotton-pickin' minute, I thought to myself.

Having grown up in the midst of cotton country, I knew that this "scent" was merely a romanticized notion of cotton dreamed up by big-city companies who were trying to sell more over-priced candles.
The candle smelled familiar, yes, even kind of pleasant. Fresh linen, maybe. A garden after a spring rain, plausible.
But definitely not cotton, and I knew I probably wasn't the only person in North Texas to question and find humor in the candle's dubious title.
A farm and ranch show was going on at the MPEC that weekend and I told our one of our regional reporters who covered agriculture to go over to the ag center -- candle in hand and photographer in tow -- and get folks to smell and comment on it.
It turned into a delightful feature. From the agriculture expert who explained that real cotton has no scent to the cotton farmer who quipped, dryly, "Fresh picked cotton smells like sweat," the story was a great read.
We even got a great picture of a girl holding the reins of her horse while she smelled the candle.
A large part of this business is covering the wrecks and fires and shootings and meetings.
But I like to think that there are lots of "candles-to-the-ag-show" stories out there just wanting for us to find them.

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