I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.
There They Endure
if only in my boyhood memories, the one thing that I remember is "they" exist. Places such as; Cypsey; Bull Mountain and Williams Creek. Three bodies of water that have helped several generations of people from Marion and Franklin Counties to not only survive, but work in their chosen field of corn, cotton, and even beef cattle. All prospered, if only they lived a peaceful life was testimony enough to talk about them here at my doings.
And Besides The Farming
that fed many people who grew up to walk in the same footprints made (by parents) in the same corn and cotton fields, there was the exciting sport (that only a person from these bodies of water know) of Cane Pole Fishing. I did it--although I was under my own brand of protest, but out of that fiery, indignation that is only felt by a 13-year-old boy who "thinks" that he knows it all and has done it all, came a fascination and joy that I learned from the Rural Cane Pole Fishing and it still exists.
To be clear, Cypsey Creek Bottom, to be exact, and Williams Creek, both exist in Marion County, in northwest Alabama while Bull Mountain sets across the Franklin County Line just northwest off of highway 19 out of Hamilton. But in their time, I would have to dedicate at least five hubs to get in the highlights of my rural fishing holes. Yes, I did my share of fishing, all thanks to my dad whom I still miss worse than a heartbeat--because he was a true "hands-on" type of dad, husband, and friend. If you needed something he took his two hands in a few minutes, you were taken care of. And the time when he worked at fixing something, he seldom talked. I can lay that to him rarely have to do things over again. I am not exaggerating.
The only dialogue I will present will be from my dad and what he said to me at a rather shaky time of my young life--where I have already told you about my life at 13 years old. My dad would do more watching than teaching me for he knew that I hated authority, but would respond better to kindness. Not really a Rocket Scientist, but oh how he knew how to live life.
"you think you can ride with me to Cypsey Bottom? I can't really remember what roads to take." My dad said and I thought that he was up to something. And for I knew, he was.
I agreed. I got in the truck and off we went off on a Saturday afternoon for, well, he never said. All he wanted me to do was ride with him and show him how to get to Cypsey Creek. I promise that is all. And to show you just how ignorant that I was, I even saw the fishing poles, tackle box and coffee can of fish bait (redworms) sitting in the bed of his truck and never gave it any thought.
My dad, my brother-in-law and me did have a previous trip several week ago and I remembered for some reason the roads to take and when to turn and still . . .I had no clue as to what he had planned. But the ride was fun. The summer breeze slapped at my face through the pickup window and I began to get into a good mood. Okay, I told you about my life as a 13-year-old.
My dad talked a few minutes about my school work and what, if any, plans that I had made for life out of school, you know, questions that all parents ask their children. I recall answering a few of his questions and then telling him what highway to turn onto and still, I was getting curious about Cypsey Creek. I was genuinely feeling good. I wonder if my dad had this planned all along?
When he turned off the motor of the truck, we got out and dad took the fishing equipment and then it hit me. We are going to fish, but where? All I could see was tall sage-grass, kudzu with its vines that were taking-over the smaller trees and my dad, always the careful parent, cautioned me about being careful about Rattlesnakes. That, he didn't have to tell me twice. I had a healthy respect for Rattlers then and even at my age now. I will keep myself away from them if they will stay away from me.
I reached for my Cane Pole, a fishing pole that my dad told me to use on "that" trip with him and my brother-in-law and my mind was way too high in the clouds to know the obvious. I loved my cane pole. It was just the right length and I loved how the nylon twine was wrapped because if it was one thing that this 13-year-old knew was to keep your twine wrapped well so you can take home more fish.
Hold everything! My memories of Cypsey Creek Bottom are going way too fast. I need to slow down a little in hope that you can not just read all about my Cane Pole Experience, but feel it and maybe smell it as it happens. Is it a deal?
Have you ever just stopped and smelled how fresh the grass is in the summer breeze? I am not talking about mowed grass, but the grass that grows wild and uninhibited on and near the creek banks located in the south? There is a distinctive aroma that our noses can detect and I remember "that" feeling and emotion as I followed my dad down the trail alongside of Cypsey Creek and I was hoping that we would reach his fishing hole soon because I wanted to catch some good-sized fish.
I could also see in the trail of slick mud that was part of the creekbank and the steps made by others besides my dad and me. I thought as I stumbled along, by the number of others who were walking down this trail, we were in for a lot of company, but I was wrong. And glad of it. Only my dad and I were in the presence of Cypsey Creek Bottom running underneath a canopy of Muscadine vines entangled with Kudzu vines and tree limbs, the old, old limbs that had grown there since time, I imagined. There was so many vines and limbs, we sat in a near-dark afternoon at his fishing hole.
Dad, while he was fishing, did not talk. The pro's who fish never talk either. It's not because the fish could be scared. It was because my dad and the fishing pro's were relying on their sense of touch on their fishing line to know exactly when a fish was about to bite their bait and when they were just playing with it. I tried to learn this wisdom from my dad because he said that it takes practice.
While we sat and fished, I closed my eyes for just a minute to listen to my surroundings. There were the sounds of frogs singing to other frogs at the creek's side. Of course there were birds of every breed making their own music and the suttle sound of the Cyspey Creek slowly running down and away to empty somewhere toward the Mississippi River that would eventually empty into the Gulf of Mexico and I just thought: "these little creeks and soon they evolve into bigger bodies of water until they are matured to be ocean material."
"you asleep?!" dad said. "No. Just relaxing," I said. He never returned a reply.
And like some famous ballet writer and choreographer who wrote the lyrics of ordered songs and dance steps that to the outsider, may look awkward and obviously-foolish to the onlooker, but when all of the parts are played by the many who make-up a ballet, something great, something grand happens. This is the exact way that I want to share my true feelings of "that" afternoon with my dad, fishing with his Zebco, and me with my cane pole and all of the sounds of life I heard.
The only time that this 13-year-old boy got irritated on this day was the time that my dad gently asked me, "Ken, you ready to head home?"
I was. Sadly, I was.
© 2018 Kenneth Avery