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Showing posts from March, 2017

A Kindred Spirit

That morning, I paddled the cove, searching around fallen timber and boat docks for bass. The first one I hung into pulled my kayak around like a bathtub toy, even though he was no more than two pounds. I took a good look at the fish, then flipped him back into the tangled mass of brush that I'd pulled him out of. When I paddled back out away from the bank, I saw a man in a red kayak, working the shoreline toward me, although his only fishing rod was upright in the rod holder, and his hands were prodding the rocks, as if he was searching for something. I just watched him, wondering what he was looking for, and then when he pulled up a wad of mono with a Carolina rig attached to it, I knew he was a treasure hunter.He looked to be around 70-- slender and tall with a white goatee and ponytail, earrings and tattoos, a stubby pipe puffing smoke as he paddled on around the bend to find another jewel. When he looked up, I threw up my hand. He took the pipe from his teeth and said, "…

Simplicity

As Wildcat Creek slows and widens, just before it flows into what we call Tyger River Swamp, there is a stretch of water that is deep and full of stumps and fallen trees, as well as cattails and willows, making it nearly impenetrable, that is, unless you happen to be the kind of nut that will do anything or go anywhere to catch a fish. And if it so happens that you are warped enough to weave your way through the thick tangle, and get wet from head to toe, not to mention the possibility of coming face to face with snakes, snapping turtles, or the occasional rabid animal, you'd better be prepared to hang on, because there's no telling what you might catch, and there's no telling how big it will be. Sure it's a challenge to fight a five pound bass in heavy cover from the casting deck of a boat, but try it laying on your belly, half-submerged in mud, with a rod better suited to catch bream or crappies with, knowing all the time that it is an exercise in futility. It's …

Under the Cover of Darkness

I thought it was a good idea to begin with, but I had my first doubts when it became obvious that my brother-in-law had never been in a canoe before, seeing as how he tried to step into it, like he was boarding a pontoon boat. Not only that, but he was also the one with the shotgun, loaded to the gills with buckshot, and I knew from experience that he was more careless with one than my five year old son would've been. Piss poor judgment on my part.We had a major beaver problem on our hands, or actually, in the creek that forms the boundary of our property. The beavers had built a series of dams and backed up water, creating stagnant ponds that would later serve as a giant mosquito hatchery. I'm not sure why we felt it was up to us to "put a stop" to this activity, but I'm pretty sure that it was mostly because we were bored. My brother-in-law had borrowed some beaver traps a couple of months before, and after a few setbacks-- like having to figure out how to remo…

A Murder of Crows

In the distance, just over the hill, I can hear the incessant caw-caws of crows, evidently upset about something. I leave the old gravel road-bed and follow a deer path through scrub-pines and eventually find my way to the clearing where thick woods gives way to an overgrown pasture. I can hear the fabric of my shirt-tail ripping as I pull free of briars that are  waist-high around the field's edge. The crows continue to voice their concern, and as I reach the top of a terrace, I see them, ten or more. I stand still for a moment so as not to alert them of my presence, but I figure that whatever it is they're bothered by is more concerning to them than an out of shape, bushy bearded, lug of a man like myself. I sidle up the hill toward the tree line, and that's when I see the object of their grievances.About thirty feet up in an oak limb, sits a hawk. He is as still as a statue, and he appears unconcerned about the verbal abuse and continuous dive-bombing from the gang of c…

Reluctant Spring

Yesterday, as we traveled the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway near Gowensville, we were amazed by the contrast of seasons on display in the landscape before us. In the foreground was the magnificent pink blossoms of peach trees in full bloom, with the ancient hills of The Dark Corner, covered in a dusting of March snow, as a backdrop. The mountains were shrouded in gray clouds near their peaks, making them look higher than they actually are. We didn't have a good camera with us, just the ones from our cell phones. I did manage to slow enough for Melissa to take a quick, off-handed shot with her phone. As usual, we were in a rush to get from one engagement to another, and didn't have time to stop for a while and take it all in.

The Ghost of Wildcat Creek

From the back porch, where I sit with a cup of coffee on the rail and a notebook on my lap, I can see the dog-hobble covered bank of Wildcat Creek. As mundane as this place might seem to some people, it is a place where I draw a great deal of inspiration from. Mornings seem to be the most productive time for me, as I straddle the line between conscience and unconscious-- with one foot still in the dream world, I suppose. I've written pages upon pages here (mostly crap) just trying to figure out exactly what it is that I think.It is in the evenings, though, that my mind begins to wander, and I find myself distracted with any sound or smell that reminds me of the past. This is usually when I catch a glimpse of him.
----------------------------------------------------------------Laying cross-ways on a Persimmon tree that leans across a deep pool is a boy, no more than seven years old. His tattered  jeans rolled up to his knees and his T-shirt covered in silt and mud. He is looking fo…

Gifts From Above

I've sat among the hardwoods for many  mornings, watching the sun rise and feeling its rays on my face as the first light filters through the trees. The woods slowly wakes and begins to come alive all around me. The birds rehearse their songs and the squirrels leave their warm nests to venture out and get an early start on their busy day. Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can hear a turkey gobble, or the sound of a pileated woodpecker off in the next holler. It's a scene that has been played out since creation. No matter what the circumstances are in our modern society, life in the natural world continues on.Standing knee-deep in the cold water of a mountain stream, I am taken captive by my surroundings, feeling as if somehow I am becoming part of this place by merely standing still and allowing it to consume me. The sound of the rushing waters is soothing because after a while it begins to drown out all of the thoughts that I normally dwell on. Rivers have a calming effect…

Life Hanging on a Vine

We descended the steep slope down to Green Creek and followed the trail that runs beside it, stopping along the way to let the dogs drink where the sandbars were, or to gather large stones or small pebbles to add to rock cairns erected by past travelers in random places along the hiking trail.That late September afternoon, the skies were cloudless, and ever so often, a slight breeze would drift through the hemlocks, making it the perfect day for a walk in the woods. We crossed Green Creek twice on foot-bridges, and began the gradual incline that carried us deeper into the forest and closer to our end point, the South Pacolet River.My wife and I held hands and talked about both past and future adventures in this mountain cove, and I recounted for her the details of hunting trips, just over the mountain.Two miles in and a half mile to go, my wife's hands started to tremble. Soon, her arms felt so heavy that she could not lift them to brace herself on a oak tree. She told me how dizz…

A Miracle of Trout

It was the first day of spring, and I was taking Chase bream fishing. The weather had been warm for several weeks, but the water was still nice and chilly. "It might be too early for them to bite," I told him, just in case they didn't. It's hard enough to keep a six-year old's attention, especially if there's not much action.Bream are temperamental little creatures, and if for some reason they don't want to bite, you can hang it up. You can, however, aggregate them enough that they will go into a feeding frenzy, but it takes a great deal of begging on certain days. This particular day they were in one of those moods. I started working the deep under-cut bank of the creek we were on, and they just weren't getting the idea. My son was losing confidence in me, and fast.Unexpectedly, something took my offering and nearly jerked my spinning rod right out of my hand. I saw a silver flash under the surface as I lifted the rod to pull in the fish. I was think…