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‘Fishing in Tula’ by Shane Brown


Mom sent me this picture yesterday after we took the fish from the pond and it made me smile.

I love this picture so much because it was exactly where I was sitting a few days ago thinking about the day we went fishing.

I woke up Saturday morning early to my son, Maddux, asking me if it was time to catch the fish. I told him it was and I kissed Rilee, my daughter, awake to get dressed. She wasn’t as eager as Maddux but got up easily from our warm covers. By the time she and I got out of the bed Maddux was already running down the steps of the cabin’s back porch. Each step shook the small structure as if it was a grown man racing to rescue someone or something.

I put on some old blue jeans and a black t-shirt that I used to coach in. I knew there would be a chance I wouldn’t wear them again because one day possibly poison, thick mud or smelly fish may ruin them. I brushed my teeth and walked out the back door to Maddux sitting in his boat on top of the levee. He had already prepared it with a dip net and paddle.

I looked over at the dock and Rilee was sitting there holding her puppy, Drake. Both were waiting on family and friends to show up for this event. We all have looked forward to its surprise. The thoughts of what we could pull out from under the shallow, cloudy water had been lingering. Questions of how many and how big of fish have echoed through phones and gathered conversations.

I sat down under the kitchen pavilion where my brother-in-law was getting ready to watch College Gameday. It was a beautiful October-like morning. The sun is shining brightly over the pond and boats are glistening at the water’s edge. The leaves from all the trees standing over us are damp. They too reflected the sunshine as cool breezes fluttered them. Steam rose from a coffee cup and smoke too from an ashtray on the table in front of me. I leaned back and watched my kids. I looked at the water and wondered what we were about to see.

The suspense was overwhelming them and mine was for them.

Trucks and cars started pulling in and the process began quickly. Boats were loaded with nets, paddles, poison and kids. Little girls stood on the levee with Mom and a few boys sat on the banks waiting for their turn in a boat.

The poison that takes the oxygen out of the pond temporarily was being poured and scattered by my step-brother in his scamper in circles. He dosed the brown water and we sat and waited.

Kids started screaming and shouting they saw a fish. Fifteen minutes went by and we haven’t seen any life from a fish. Fifteen minutes of waiting for them has turned into feeling like it could take all day for us to catch fish.

They start shouting more and fish started to rise. One of the oldest kids was alone in a one-man boat and he caught the first big one. We watched him reach his dip net down in the water and then mud and water started flying in all directions. He pulled out a beautiful five-pound bass and landed him in the boat below his feet.

I looked upon the levee as Mom and the kids were clapping like a touchdown has been scored. Their applause lasted a good long time and then more shouting started.

My son and I, with a friend, were in a boat and we started working right then. We were scooping three and four-pound catfish with a few bass. The fish threw mud and smiles on our faces.

The boat loaded up quickly with fins and tails flipping in the aluminum-crafted boat. Little boys were working hard and fast. They were leaning and stretching dip nets out for another prize. I paddled as fast and accurately as I could.

I looked upon the levee again and watched Mom enjoy the day. She worked hard at this place with Dad for a long time. She had peace in her face and love for what is going on. She knows Tula is being taken care of like it’s supposed to be… like Dad took care of it. She knows if Billy Ray or LeAnne or I can’t one day, if she is not able to either, then these little boys or girls will.

They and we will always remember this day. They will always remember this place…A Place Called Tula.

Shane Brown

Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at msushanebrown@yahoo.com.

Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.

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