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‘A Walk Around the Pond’ by Shane Brown


I came home today and went straight back behind the cabin to let my kids’ new puppy out of its kennel while icing down some cold beer.

I walked around the corner of the house where the pavilion sits with grills on each side, a patio table in the middle, and a bar with a sink, counter and propane grill. Drake is whining from his cage and I threw the ice on the concrete floor of pavilion, eased the beer on the table before tending to him.

I climbed the steps to the back porch and his whining got faster with the sounds of my boots on the 2×6’s. I kneeled down to his confinement and unlocked the cage door. I sat down with him as he jumped on my lap and licked my face. I didn’t wanna raise a puppy but I am doing this for my kids. I enjoy seeing their faces light up when they greet each other and play.

As I am sitting there with Drake, I look up to study the pond and see it has really taken a drop in leverage since the drainage has been put in to take out the water and fish. My Step-Father (Mike) and I convinced my Mom it was time to drain and restock the pond here because the fishing has gotten poorer each year Dad has been gone. She agreed but only until she was able to host her class reunion at Tula so her friends could see its beauty.

Mike hooked up the draining project seven days ago and each day I could see a slight difference. It’s a slower process than most. He wanted to take the process slowly so my kids and their cousins could experience the adventure when they’re all together. It’s a two-inch pipe connected to valves and turns that are self-siphoning. The pipe is laid over the levee and down into the woods about 17 feet and 30 away from its turn.

But when I caught the view today, the sight made me think of old memories. I haven’t seen waters this low since Dad drained it years ago to build the dock. I remembered the generator running constantly with bigger pipes to suck the pond quicker. I remembered my brother and I as kids struggling through the black mud as we played at the bottom as he cut and put boards together. He would have to check on the generator at midnight, and he would drive over there from our home to fill its tank. That task was a good reason for a break from writing, and a cold beer too.

I got up from where I was sitting, iced down my beer and lit a cigarette. I then began taking pictures of the pond to send to my children. They are great fishermen at such an early age and they are excited about the process that’s taking place Saturday with the fish being caught and removed.

I started at the dock and walked around to the levee. Each step reminds me of a certain stump that used to be in the pond, a fish caught and a snake killed…the voices in days past laughed as the memories formed.

I went around the bend that the levee gives in to where beautiful trees towered over me. Drake is barking for me to wait. He took the route I didn’t choose and had tried to pace below the depths of the wet banks. The fresh, smooth and dark mud had him slipping and falling and barking. He finally caught up to me in front of the writing shack so we continued our way around the pond where we stopped half-way. I took pictures of bream beds that had been made and now discovered.

Dad always talked about having a little dog like Drake around here but never got one. I see Drake playing in the grass when he started walking from the grown brush from the pond’s edge when I smelled a strong odor of live fish. It’s not a bad smell. It’s a pleasant smell to me, and my kids and anyone else who partakes in fishing. I started to think the smell is strong because the fish were all getting closer together. The pond’s circle had grown smaller and maybe having so many fish together in a tighter area will make the scent rise off the cycling water.

I walked back around the last side of the pond where Dad dug the pond out with a shovel and hooked a lawnmower trailer to his pick-up truck to build the pond’s levee higher. I thought about all the things he did here in Tula and of A Miracle of Catfish that he wrote. I immediately thought of my kids because we have been talking about one of the characters in the book who is a giant-sized catfish named Ursula. I don’t remember how much she weighed but I tell the kids she could probably eat me. I have told them that I think she is in the pond so they talk about her constantly. I became a little sad about leading them on like that because of what Saturday will bring, but realization hit me as I was lifting Drake up over the small creek to get him across. Ursula was a character that was made-up. Ursula was unimaginable to the eye but stuck in your heart. Ursula is something desirable and intriguing, exciting and beautiful. Ursula is our Tula too.

I laid Drake on the ground and continued our path to the cabin. I walked around the huge cedar tree covering the dock that holds two chairs, a fishing pole, an old box of worms and some muddy boots a kid has left there. I sit down and daylight had begun to meet nightfall. Crickets and frogs sang as they usually do. Huge rolls of water popped all around from a small fish finding supper. I smiled and listened to my quietness in the mist of the sounds.

I am ready for my kids and their cousins to smile and become excited on Saturday. Their eyes will beam of joy with fish all around them. Men will work and catch fish with nets and dump them in boats. Memories are set in place for one day Tula having a miracle of catfish…

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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