The Jackson Herald
November 26, 2003
Blessings behind the blessings
I am thankful for that electrifying tap, tap, tap. For you non-fisherman (and women) let me explain.
The tap, tap, tap comes when a big bass picks up your bait. The bait may be a plastic worm, lizard, crayfish, frog or some other artificial, life-like morsel that you drag across the bottom of the lake.
The tap, tap, tap from the bait, via the fishing line, to the rod and reel in your hand is thrilling indeed, electrifying sensation. Your heart skips a beat at first tap, then races at the second and third.
You try to be calm. You cut the fish some slack and watch the line slice the water. When the line tightens, you set the hook. Hopefully you set the hook in the mouth of a large mouth bass.
The tap, tap, tap now becomes a tug of war. You give. You take. Finally you reel the fish to the boat. You admire it, measure it and weigh it. Then you release it to the water to be caught by another fisherman on another day.
You are thankful for the fish, but the tap, tap, tap that signaled the strike thats what you are really thankful for.
* * *
I caught the fish on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River, facing east, casting to the bank.
It was almost dusk, time to head back home, back to camp where Fishing Creek runs into the Savannah River on Gods side. You turn the boat westward, toward Georgia, and there, on the horizon, is the sunset of the century. It highlights all of the colors of the rainbow, plus three or four others. The deep orange of the sun turns a brilliant red as it peeps between layers of clouds.
I stop in the middle of the river and shut down the motor. As the boat gently rocks on gently waves, I watch the sun pull the curtain on its spectacular performance and disappear behind a stand of tall Georgia pines.
I dont believe Ive ever been so thankful for a sunset.
* * *
I docked my boat at the campsite 2, walked up the bank, and headed over to campsite 1.
As I arrived Mike lifted the cover of his Weber and exposed two luscious, tempting, mouth-watering pork shoulders that had been slowly cooking over charcoal for ten hours. His brother Rick broke out huge sesame seed buns and Peckham placed a big pot of baked beans on the table.
Mike produced a 1.75 liter bottle of his own private Memphis style sauce, and we sat down to the best barbecued pork this side of heaven.
Mike has been doing this every year for the 35 years that the Clarks Hill Gang has been meeting at the confluence of Fishing Creek and the Savannah River. Ive been thankful for the man and his gourmet dinners every year, but never as thankful as I was this year.
* * *
We gathered around the campfire for a couple of hours, bragging about the fish we caught and lying about the big ones that got away.
We retired to our tents around midnight, and looked forward to five or six hours of shuteye before daylight and top-water time.
I did not drop right off to sleep, but lay there in my tent and listened to Natures symphony.
The voices blended beautifully. Tiny tree frogs sang tenor in branches over our heads. Large bullfrogs sang bass in the camp cove shallows.
Whippoorwills harmonized on a distant hill, and far away coyotes joined in on key.
I closed my eyes and thanked the Director of the choir.
* * *
Daylight came too soon, but we wouldnt miss top-water time for the world. Thats when you use floating lures. Instead of anticipating the electrifying tap, tap, tap, you anxiously await the explosion when a huge bass attacks the surface and inhales the floating bait .
I crawl out of my sleeping bag and stand outside the tent. Standing between campsite 1 and campsite 2, pleasing aromas waft toward me from both directions.
Gomez was brewing coffee on No. 1. Hopper was frying bacon on No. 2. I stood lost in time between the two, fresh coffee on the left, sizzling bacon on the right, enjoying the aroma, and all the while surrounded by old friends and good fishing buddies.
It doesnt get any better than this: six blessings to be thankful for. But I would never know they were blessings but for....
* * *
But for the sense of touch, I would not know the thrill of the electrifying tap, tap, tap.
But for the sense of sight, the beautiful sunset would be unseen.
But for the sense of taste, Mikes gourmet barbecue would be tasteless.
But for the sense of hearing, Natures symphony would fall on deaf ears.
But for the sense of smell, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and sizzling bacon would bypass my nostrils.
But for a deep sense of respect, trust, camaraderie and love for my old friends and good fishing buddies, I may as well drop out of the Clarks Hill Gang, never set foot in a boat again, and forget about that electrifying tap, tap, tap.
It is well and good to be thankful for blessings. It is also all right to be aware of blessings behind the blessings: those that enable us to touch, see, taste, hear, smell and feel... and thus live our lives to the fullest. Because of the gift of the senses, we are truly blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving, yall.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.
Comments From The O-Zone
By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
November 26, 2003
Grateful For A Younger Brother
When it comes to the family dynamic, I suppose one big thing I should be thankful for this year is the lack of any apparent rivalry between my two sons. Jack, approaching what his parents dreamily think is potty training age, and Turner, 13 weeks old on Thanksgiving day, are both disgustingly delightful to be around.
Jack just about goes out of his way to stop and give Turner a kiss on the forehead when hes running by chasing a wayward dump truck laden with Legos. Turner sleeps, eats, and smiles his way through the day, and he seems genuinely excited to get a good look at his brothers face as its zeroing in to apply slobber to the upper half of his face.
Ive heard, though, that the real competition gets rolling when the younger one starts crawling. Its only when the older one realizes his toys do not exist solely for his own pleasure that the sparks begin to fly. We shall see. I think were off to a pretty good start.
When I was younger, I was thankful to have a younger brother who might share or even take all of the blame when something went wrong. The first lie I remember telling was in the aftermath of a whole lot of splashing in the bathtub. The entire bathroom was dripping with water and suds. When Dad came in and asked what was going on, I pointed at Joe and claimed with a straight face, He did it.
Soon after, in another bathtub related incident, I convinced my younger brother that Jaws was loose under the bubbles. This revelation caused him quite a lot of anxiety that night in particular and about bathing in general. My dad countered by informing me calmly that Frankenstein lived in my closet, Dracula was lying in my toy chest, and the Wolfman waited for me patiently under my bed. Besides losing a lot of sleep over the next five or six years, as a result of Dads claim I developed the ability to jump from the threshold of my bedroom onto the center of my bed in one swift move.
By the time both of us were in school, my parents were somewhat numb to the various manifestations of sibling rivalry. My brother and I acted in a couple of plays one summer, playing brothers, and we were fascinated by the choreographed fights the adult actors practiced during rehearsal, so we spent an entire afternoon choreographing our own faux-fight. We incorporated a knee kick to the head and several punches to the face. One of us even rolled down the hill after receiving a particularly brutal blow to the kidney region. We were so proud of ourselves that we took the show home to Mom, who, upon witnessing the performance, asked the deflating question, Exactly how is that different from everything else you two do?
Today, Joe and I are more than great friends, and I also know not to pick on him because hes bigger. Really, Im so thankful that Jack and Turner not only have parents who love each other, like Joe and I had, theyve also got the example of two brothers who learned they could forgive all that minor rivalry stuff when it came to family.
So Joe, in case you read this, if you forgive me for throwing fertilizer in your eyes that time, Ill forgive you for shooting me in the backside with that BB gun. Thats what its all about, right?
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.