Possumhaw: A man and his dreams

February 25, 2013 9:47:01 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


Some days pass by so fast you don't even see them, but come Saturday the pace slows down around here. Saturdays start off quiet and slow, allowing time to catch up. Then there's strong coffee followed by a bowl of oatmeal topped with honey, golden nectar, a gracious gift. 


A week's worth of town clothes are thrown into the washer. Fortunately the washer can wash the clothes while other chores are tended to. The Prairie's been awash with rain, leaving the ground so thick your boots trail mud clods across the yard like an off-road vehicle. 


Sam grabbed a rake and removed 10 tons of soggy leaves so the grass could breathe. He uncovered daffodils struggling toward the sun and other green things yet to be revealed. He rakes the leaves onto an old sheet and gathers up the four corners. The whole load is then dragged into the woods. Momma used to rake leaves like that. It gets the job done, and it's easy on the back.  


I headed to the garden, the one inside and outside the greenhouse. I looked back at Sam and knew he was dreaming. When he gets his chores done he's gonna go fishing. I can tell. It's been a long, cold, wet and windy winter. I know he's dreaming of the crappie spawn. He's thinking about where the fish will be, on what runs and which holes. Lately he's been waking up talking about fishing holes. 


One morning he said, "I remember Will Dove; he used to spend his days putting brush in the river creating his own holes. That's what he spent his retirement doing. Sometimes we'd run up on some structure, and we'd know that Will Dove built it." 


"I think that would be a good thing for you to do. I think you'd like that." 


Sam put his hands behind his head and leaned back. I could see he was dreaming about it. 


"You know, I wonder how long Mr. Hickel got to fish after he retired. We used to tease him that he didn't have any friends 'cause he always went fishing alone," Sam said. "But you know, I like fishing alone. You don't have to think about anything but fishing." 


At the greenhouse I pulled up the old tomato plants, putting the remaining green and half-red tomatoes in the ice cream bucket. They'd make a tomato pie. I hoed the ground that's as thick as peanut butter. I rolled up the soaker hoses figuring I could water by hand from here on. I looked down at my clothes; they were covered in mud. I'd have to change clothes, and it wasn't even noon yet. 


I looked up to see Sam coming. "I think I'm going fishing," he said. 


"I think that's a good idea. See if you can bring home some supper. Crappie would be nice." 


Tomato pie and crappie fillets. Not bad groceries.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.