This month another from "Stardaddy", I know it's not really about fishing, but it is a darn funny story and incredibly well written - try it, you'll like it. Also this month a short from our own "Owl"! - Thanks to both of you for sending these in! Oh, one more thing, don't miss the cartoon this month at the end of this section! It is the first in a series from "Owl".
My grandmother, a refined southern lady, was called Momma Lollie by all the grandchildren except me. Perhaps at an early age, I peered through the facade of elderly eloquence and noticed the fun-loving, mischievous twinkle in her eyes that time had not tarnished. Maybe she needed to set a example for the other, female grandchildren since they were to be reared as ladies, but being the only male, she must have decided to let her hair down a bit and have some fun with me. Anyway, she looked more like a LaLa, to me and so, my moniker stands to even this day.
I remember her crinkly smile, upright posture, long graceful limbs and, as they say in the south; being well preserved. I was fascinated by her long earlobes to which large sparkly earrings hung, her alabaster skin which was like a porcelain glaze veined by small cracks, and a hauntingly lingering perfume. Even though LaLa could hold her own at any cotillion, and quite enjoyed her bridge club and the polite society; she could, on the other hand, throw off satire and jokes like a well practiced auctioneer.
Her visits to our family were announced by a frenzy of shopping by Mom for cokes in the small bottle, Special K cereal, cinnamon buns, and cantaloupes. I played in the carport at home and as I saw her big smile behind the large, blue steering wheel of the old Plymouth, I ran to her with abandon. After hugs and , "Oh if I was not getting big", she was always good for a stick of Juicy Fruit out of her royal blue pocketbook which smelled like wilted roses. After about two hours of enjoying me, who had worn her out bouncing about, showing her all types of collected boy things, and trying to get her attention away from my sister; Dad came home from work. It was now the cocktail hour, and after changing clothes, he asked, "Momma Lollie, would you like a drink." LaLa would, with relief burning in her eyes say, "Yes, Please."
However fun loving, LaLa was a southern lady with deportment being her part and parcel. She gave respect and expected such in return from all; either human or animal. The only criticism she ever levied against my mother concerned our two dogs and she often said, "Dorothy I don't know how you can keep animals in the house." As GranFan always said, "people in the house; animals in the barn."
This pointed comment came and went past my mother without much notice. Our dachshund, Fritz was raised by Mom, fresh from his mother's pap, hand-fed baby food when sick, and learned his manners adequately. Fritz knew he was human and completely reveled in his anthropomorphism. On the other hand, our other dog Happy, a black, knee high mutt, came as a eight month old stray, and did not have the advantage of Mom's training in his formative puppy-hood. Mom tried with everything from milkbones to a rolled newspaper, but as far as she got was that at least he would not lift his leg in the house,so his "goofus" behavior remained more hound than human After being told about Happy's achievement, LaLa raised a faint hand to her brow and retorted, "Well, thank God for little favors. I can sleep soundly knowing I won't be marked as some territory in the middle of my sleep." .
So , LaLa, being the gentile and compromising lady she was, accepted our dogs much like one acquiesces to ants at a picnic, but Happy frequently participated in canine activities she thought were disgusting. One was drinking out of the toilet. Happy thought nothing more refreshing than lapping out of a recently flushed commode, and the sound, concentrated by the bowl and amplified by the natural resonance of the bathroom, blasted all over the house making a kind of , "Bar-lup, Bar-luping" sound, and it made my grandmother's skin crawl. Even worse, was Happy's fondness for licking his rear end. The poor thing did have bad anal glands and would either slurp pulsatingly, or with such force he would go in circles chasing his fanny across the floor. At first, when Happy performed his constitutional, LaLa would do the lady-like thing and ignore it, but as the slurping sound became repetitive, a sour look would cross her face and finally choosing any non-lethal object, she would hurl it at Happy yelling, "Stop It, Stop It."
After a few years passed, LaLa mellowed in her attitude about our dogs and would even give Fritz tender pats since he minded his manners, refused to drink out of the toilet, and discreetly left the room to lick. Happy, the friendlier of the dogs, and whose manners had not improved with age, would only get a few taps on the head instead of the ear scratch he wanted. One day he just tripped-trotted over, plopped his head in LaLa's lap, and hesitantly wagged his tail. I don't know if it was his soulful eyes, or the pre-dinner toddies that soften her heart, but LaLa moved her hand towards Happy and started to scratch. Happy tilted his head so LaLa's hand could move to his ear and then up for a scratch to his chin which pointed his snout directly at LaLa's face.
In the canine world, a licking of the snout is considered a warm welcome and if a human chin is nearby it will do just fine. The warm smile on LaLa's face did not last long as Happy decided to thank her with a lick. Reflexively, my grandmother jerked her face back and up, which in dog language means; "I like this and want more." Jubilantly, Happy crawled into her lap in a licking frenzy. Poor LaLa tried every trick as she unsuccessfully attempted to hold him off. If her chin was up, he got her mouth and if down, her eyes and nose received the worst drool. To the side, right or left, her ears were the focus of the attack. Then in a flash LaLa realized the two most recent places his very wet tongue was most likely to have been, and as that mental picture flashed she yelled for assistance. A terrible error, for when her mouth opened Happy gave her a wet one right in the chops.
Where was I, you ask? At first, I was laughing and then, over joyed that my grandmother and Happy were now friends; I ran to the kitchen and told Mom that Happy was kissing LaLa. My mother's face went white and dropping the onion she was slicing, Mom quick stepped it to the den just in time to see the carnage. LaLa was lying prone on the sofa, her legs flaying helplessly with Happy, on top of her with his tail going ninety to nothing, waiting for LaLa to remove the throw pillow from her face so he could kiss her some more. Mom had a tone of voice reserved for situations like this, so with a stomp of her foot and a clap of her hand, which was like a earthquake and thunder striking at the same time, she yelled for Happy to," GET DOWN." "A very, bad dog." The effect on Happy was instantaneous, he flattened his ears, eased off LaLa like a slinking ferret, and tucking his tail, ran out of the room.
LaLa slowly sat up as her veined hand fluttered about her face trying to remove some of the slobber. In stressful situations, a southern lady has two options. Either faint, or leave the immediate area. LaLa knew if she fainted Happy's germs would invade her even more deeply, she had this thing about germs, so she chose the latter blindly working her way to the bathroom.
After things settled down, I found Happy lying low in his favorite hiding place and soon my pats and rubs placed him in a better mood. He followed me to the dinner table and noticing my grandmother was not present I asked about her? Mom just smiled a little and replied she would eat later, since as of now she was in bed having a Sinking Spell.
LaLa recovered from her spell, and after a couple of stiff toddies even started to feel like herself again. She, in the due course of time, found it in her heart to forgive Happy, but as she always told me it is easy to forgive; but difficult to forget. I know this is true because from that day on, whenever Happy looked at her and wagged his tail hesitantly; LaLa would defensively, but gracefully reach for a pillow.
"The Most Incredible Stream"
In the early morning light, Brian and I could see it clearly. It was a small stream, trickling down out of the gap in the mountainís side, hardly big enough to even "look" like a good place to fish. We were young and adventuresome, though, and eager to try our hand at some new possibilities and some new, mysterious creek. Who knew? Maybe Indians had roamed these valleys years ago, searching for deer or a safe haven from some looming thunderstorm. We were sure that things would be interesting, if nothing else.They always were with the two of us, fledgling mountain men, scared of our own shadows in broad daylight ! So we pressed ourselves against the first large rock on the side of the cliff, and lowered our bare legs into the icy flow of the new river. To say it was cold is like saying that Atlanta has congested highways. It was chilling.
Around the first bend, the water slid over a shallow slice of rock and tapered off into a level valley. Huge pine trees dwarfed us, as we made our way upstream and into casting position at the tail of the first pool of the day. The air was crisp and clean, and the chill from the glassy water was making Brianís teeth chatter.
Four hours later, in the heat of a long summer day, that same water was a welcomed friend !
Trout are shy things, and our first few casts sent them racing for the closest logs and deep pools. Brain stopped and scratched his back and looked as if he was ready to give up right then and there. " whatís up with you?", I asked.
"Stupid fish just ran away...".
"Thatís called smart fish.....", I told him, trying not to seem to mean about it. He gets his feelings hurt pretty easily, so I laid off him for a while.
The next pool was long and deep enough that we were able to shoot a cast or two into the head of the run, before spook every trout within fifty miles of Clayton ! Two small rainbows spurted up out of the pool at once. Fighting for their little nine inch lives, they had no idea that we were there to look at them and not eat them. They had the brilliant colors of wild fish, gleaming, glistining black backs, covered with spots and a bright rose colored band from head to tail. Beauty was not in the eye of the beholder alone, it was also in his hand. Brian and I released those two and a few more that we managed from the next three pools......and then it happened.
In the corner of a long slick run, with a boulder the size of a small car residing in itís middle section, there was a distinct, yet puzziling sound. We crept closer , hiding behind trees and rocks, sometimes crawling on our stomachs, toward the sound....closer...closer........< Sluuurp>...there it was again. We used great care, moved slowly, and hardly breathed. (Brian said later that he thought it was a deer or black bear slurping water from the creek !) When we finally crawled up and onto the large rock, we saw him. Brian said something akin to " Holy big-butt trout, Batman ! ". I just held my breath and hoped that the big brown wouldnít see us. He did not. We slid silently back down the rock face and waited for someone to mnake the first suggestion as to how we were going to catch this fish. After we debated the sitiuation for all of a minute, we decided that Iíd try for him first and with a small gold spinner.
Creeping around the side of the boulder, trying my best not to send ripples through the flow, I made a side arm cast to the head of the run and started the spinner turning and flashing itís way back to the tail of the pool.......BAM ! He followed it nearly to the end of the pool and hit it just before it reached the rock that I was partially hiding behind. I have never witnessed such a great fish wallowing and turning, spinning and digging down, running the length of the pool three, four, even five times. A fine Brown trout of more than 18 inches.
Later, as we drove back home to the town that we grew up in, we wondered why we hadnít fished for trout sooner. We wondered if all the mountain streams were full of fish that would bite that little gold spinner. The answer is...a few still are. A few.