I had plans to come home tonight and set up the TV outside under the kitchen pavilion to watch the first game of the World Series while cooking some burgers on the grill.
I planned to just sit outside with Drake and relax. I was just gonna let him run around Tula and bark at leaves or noisy frogs. I might do that later, but my timing is off before the first pitch at 7:07 p.m.
My phone rang when I got home, so I leaned over on the hood of my truck and talked to someone for about forty-five minutes. As I was talking on the phone, I could hear Drake playing behind the cabin. I wondered what he was doing.
Young puppies like adventure and Tula is a perfect spot for him to discover these things. There are hills to climb, woods to search, and animals to chase. When I hung up the phone, I turned to walk towards the back of the cabin that has the pond draining again for our task of restocking pond to meet Drake. His short legs have turned black from mud he has gathered from wading out in the fresh, thick surface. I laugh at him and shake my head in knowing I will have to bathe him later. We walk over to the levee to check on the pond and I find myself sitting on one of the emergency drains Dad built over the levee here.
The emergency drains have never been tested. There have never been enough water in the pond for the drains to be useful because of the spillway’s outlet that’s on the back side of the pond. The spillway sits about three feet below the rains in the corner of the pond. It’s probably four foot wide and stays clear of branches and brush from a weed eater or a hand. A bridge crosses it through the woods up to the writing cabin that overlooks the front side property. I don’t believe that enough water could ever fall or rush from the hills into the pond for the spillway or the drains to fail.
Looking back, we always made fun of Dad for his project of building the drains. His main reason was to build the levee higher and sturdier so he could drive his pickup truck back and forth to the writing cabin.
He knew it wasn’t too safe after I drove my Four-Runner off the levee one night while showing a friend the writing cabin.
After that, Dad decided to purchase a lawn mower trailer that he hooked up to the back of his truck. He would drive back and forth from one side of the pond to the levee after shoveling “eight cubic feet” of dirt to the levee. He knew exactly how much dirt was taken from the pond to build up the levee.
The process was entertaining if you happened to slip up and see him driving his truck around the place with such a small trailer. He would honk his horn at you, throw a hand up that held a cigarette to wave and give you a great big smile. We would laugh and walk over to the levee where he would work so hard and precisely!
Dad would tell you stories of his events of moving dirt, building footings for the concrete to be poured, laying the PVC pipes for the drains to function, or about the baby deer he saw with its mother grazing the tall Bermuda behind the barn.
Drake has found my coat pocket and is pulling on it. His sharp little teeth are shredding cotton, wanting me to get up and play. But I don’t want to leave this spot I’m sitting at. I gently push him away and prop my elbows on my knees as I look out at the brown, murky water. I lift a cigarette from my pockets and light it. Smoke surround my view as I gaze at the hills, the pond, and the trees.
Cars drive by and I hear their tires rub against the asphalt. Nobody knows but Drake knows where I’m sitting or what I am doing. I could sit here forever and be ok with that.
But my mind looks ahead to Saturday where we get to catch all these fish Ms. Ludie and Dad raised in here.
It’s when my little boy and girl get to see what they have been trying to catch for the last few years. It’s right here where I sit on this concrete drain that Dad built. It’s right here, where I will sit with my kids on Saturday, and we will understand more…what it’s ALL about.
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 email@example.com.
Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.