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Morning Camp

This morning I christen my Coleman stove with bacon grease at first light. The songbirds of the Smokies begin their first chorus against the white noise of frying meat. I let the first couple of pieces get maybe too done in my grandma's black iron frying pan, but that's how I like it. I turn down the fire and the rest of the thick- cut bacon comes out perfect. I save some of the grease in the bottom of the pan for eggs.
I break six eggs in a large paper cup and stir in some half and half from the cooler. I mix them well into a creamy light yellow and pour them into the dark grease in the frying pan. As the eggs cook, they take on some of the dark color from the black pan and burned bacon pieces, but they turn out well.
Bringing water to boil on the other eye, I throw in a heaping handful of good ground coffee into the French press. I pour in the water and press the plunger down, watching the dark liquid swirl into a creamy head. The first sip from my cup has the aroma and flavo…
Recent posts

Dad's Fish

My dad caught the biggest rainbow trout of his life, and he was so excited that he threw his fishing rod down and clamored up the riverbank and put the fish in the trunk and said, Come on, let's go.
I said, What about your rod? and he said, I won't be needing that anymore. After catching a fish like this, what's the point?
We drove into town and turned on a side street, then pulled up in front of a sign that read, Taxidermy. My dad told the man inside that he wanted the fish mounted no matter how much it cost, and the man grinned and said, Give me two weeks.
Dad was a wreck for the two long weeks of waiting. As the estimated time drew closer, he didn't eat nor sleep, he just paced the floor, waiting for the telephone to ring, with a voice on the other end saying, Come pick up your fish. Finally, that call came, and when it did, my dad ran out the door and dove in his old car, and liked to have lost it as he tore out of our yard on two wheels.
When he returned home, not a …

The Beginner

My son had to leave the family gathering at Lake Robinson early, and he left behind his most expensive bass fishing rods, propped against the wall of the picnic shelter, thinking that I would grab them for him because he was in a hurry. I noticed the rods standing there as we were gathering our things at the end. I complained to my wife about his lack of responsibility, and snatched the rods up.
As I turned to leave the shelter, this kid tapped me on the back. “I was kinda wanting to go fishing,” the boy said, “but I don't have anything to fish with.”
The boy went on to tell me that he had fished a time or two before, but he didn't know much about it. I looked down at my son's rods and said, “Let's go buddy, we'll use these, if it's OK with your mom and dad.”
The boy followed me to the dock, and when we got out there, I asked which one he wanted to use: the spinning reel, or baitcaster. I was a little relieved that he chose the former, because I could envision a …

A Rural Life

I grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, in a community that believed in hard work and family, as well as a close tie to the land. We grew our own vegetables and raised animals, and we helped our neighbors whenever they needed it.
When we planted our gardens in spring, we always planted more than we needed, and so did our friends and neighbors. When harvest time arrived, we shared with people in the community. I remember my dad delivering corn, tomatoes, green beans and squash to a few of the older members of our community, or families in need.
We all did our share of the work, from plowing and planting, to weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. The agricultural practices in our community were never for profit, it was always about sustenance for our families and friends.
I remember going after school to help get up hay, or put up fences, or do simple repairs on neighbors homes. In summer, I would help other people do their work in their gardens, or take care of their animals.
We would…

Working Together

My dad passed away on this date, three years ago . I'll admit that I still have a hard time with it, knowing that I'll never see him again or talk to him in this lifetime. You always hear that time heals the heart, and the pain has faded some, but you never truly get over losing a loved one. What I am left with are the memories, for better or for worse. In my head, I can faintly see his face, can almost make out the sound of his voice among the the many others that have stayed with me through the years. Sometimes I try to remember certain things he said, and when I can't, it drives me crazy. There are things that I have wanted to tell him since he passed, but can't. I have questions about things that only he would know the answer to, but I am left wondering now for the rest of my life, with no access to that answer. I've ran into trouble with a car engine, or air conditioning unit, or electrical panel, and my life- line that was always just a phone call away, is no…

After Dark

I stayed up way too late last night. Chase called on his way home from work and told me that we were going catfishing. That's usually how things like this begin.

My brand new son- in- law Bryan was going too, although my daughter wasn't crazy about the idea. No worries though, she would stay at our house and await his return. She ended up asleep on my side of the bed until we got back. Apparently, their agreed upon curfew was 11:30, and he did his best to keep it despite Chase's nudging him to stay longer. My son has no concept of time when it comes to fish, whether they are biting or not.

So there we stood in the dark, on a bridge that crosses the Tyger  River. Every creature that flies or creepeth upon the ground was out. The noise from insects and frogs in the surrounding swamp was deafening. Chase was our catfish guide. He'd brought all the rods, bait and any tackle we might need. Chase's bait of choice was chunks of chicken breast marinated in his secret formu…

Hear That Lonesome Whippoorwill

This is something I wrote in my journal five years ago. I wish I had started a blog back then. Maybe I would know what I am doing by now. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read it.


One of the best things about living in the country is the unfolding of the seasons before you. I imagine that in the big city, one season just blend into the next, with the only noticeable difference being the temperature. I imagine that the sound of traffic drowns out the mockingbirds on May afternoons, and the sound of owls after dark. Having the great fortune of coming up in a rural setting, I learned at an early age to appreciate the simple things in life the most. Sunrises, sunsets, the trilling of the tree frogs, and of course, the whippoorwills song in late evening.

Each spring, one sure sign that nature is alive and well is the lonesome sound, floating through the valley, hanging on the breeze. Many a night has been spent around a campfire, listening to the haunting dirge from deep in the woods.…