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Birney Imes: The first day of summer

 

Birney Imes

 

In the heat you can smell the honey and beeswax 10 feet from the hive. As our grandparents did in summers past, the bees escape the swelter by clustering outside on what is equivalent to their front porch. There and on the sides of the hive boxes they will remain making their low hum throughout the night. If the morning is cool, they will have retreated back inside by the time I return with my coffee. 

 

The butterfly weed cuttings Linda Spearing gave me aren''t doing so well. Of all the flowers in her glorious yard (712 Sixth Ave. S.) that was the only one covered with bees. Also called milkweed the plant attracts Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. 

 

Linda said she got hers from the roadside. It''s a wildflower and not easily transplanted. Linda''s thumbs are greener than most and she had no trouble. As she chopped away part of hers to give me, she said she''d spotted another one along a Starkville road she hoped to adopt. 

 

As I readied to strike out on my evening walk, daughter Tanner strapped to the back of her bike a pink plastic kitty cat lunchbox containing her swimming togs. 

 

"Swimming?" I asked. 

 

"I''m going to somewhere; it''s the longest day of the year," she said as she pedaled away. 

 

Ten minutes later I saw her again at Leadership Plaza taking a picture of Gene and Sherry Guyton with their cell phone. The Guytons were celebrating their 41st anniversary and were about to have dinner at Huck''s. 

 

"I got my father''s day present early this year," Gene drawled. 

 

The Guytons'' daughter, Ginger Karl, is having what will be their first grandchild. Ginger lives in Vail, Co. Tanner and Gene are sometimes fishing buddies. 

 

More than once Gene has waxed nostalgic about my father-in-law, A.D. Hickel, himself a crappie fisherman of local renown. No doubt A.D. would smile at the thought of Guyton taking his granddaughter fishing. 

 

After the photo shoot and visiting with the Guytons, I head for the Island--the Isle of Columbus, as one of our sons calls it. Below the old river bridge, kids are enjoying the river by way of a rope swing. 

 

Yes ago, the swing was just above the mouth of Moore''s Creek across the river from the patio of Bob''s Place. Seems I remember it being a sturdy steel cable with a pipe handle. It was a popular place. 

 

Soon the bridge will undergo a makeover, but now, on its west end, it''s fighting a losing a battle with kudzu. 

 

On Port Access Road a dozen or so cars from Baldour pass. After that it is just me and the mimosas. They''re not as fragrant as they were two weeks ago, but still, with the heat and humidity, the swamp frogs and the rose-colored clouds, one would be hard pressed to find more a potent summer cocktail. 

 

Upon my arrival, two dozen geese voice their displeasure at having to surrender the overgrown road that runs through White''s Slough. The swamp cypress is thick and verdant; the slough is covered with a small green bead-like berry, giving the water''s surface the look of a new pool table. 

 

At the end of the road, I make my way up an embankment to the railroad tracks. The moon is already in the sky though the day has at least two more hours of light. 

 

At the old trestle I pause to watch two shirtless men idle downriver toward the port in a Cigarette racing boat with the number 1 on its side. The motor is loud; I stand and wait hoping to see them put the racing boat through its paces. 

 

While waiting, I flash on a long-ago winter day when a group of boys in a ski boat fished from the cold river two classmates who flipped a small boat with an oversized outboard motor. No one was hurt; everyone got wet. Jimmy Graham was among them. 

 

As it reaches a crane unloading a barge at the port, the Cigarette makes a slow U-turn. No hurry. It is first day of summer, the longest day. There is a pause before the roar; the boat rears up, then planes off. By the time it reaches the trestle, the long, elegant Cigarette is one with the river. Its two passengers wave as the craft flashes below. I stand and watch its perfectly symmetrical wake, the river, the green of the trees. 

 

Write or phone Birney Imes at The Commercial Dispatch, 516 Main St., Columbus, MS 39701, 328-2424, or e-mail him at birney@cdispatch.com.

 

Birney Imes III is the Editor and Publisher of The Dispatch.

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment kat commented at 6/24/2010 7:45:00 PM:

what a wonderful story! I felt like I was on the river front too. Enjoy it more when you write your delightful, descriptive stories.

 

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