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- Teach A Woman To Fish
Today we are at The Little Pond, Daddy and I. Before last week I had not been fishing in probably twenty years and now here I am headed back to the dark water. (Other than myself, no one in my family feels the need to name locations and inanimate objects, thus The Little Pond. Last week we were at The Big Pond.) There are a number of reasons why it has been so long since I’ve gone fishing. Some of them are the standard reasons we give for neglect; others I won’t admit. And while those things were holding me, the game has changed. You don’t ride down the road with the window cracked and your cane pole whipping in the hot breeze anymore. In the 21st century one fishes with a telescopic fiberglass contraption that is handy and efficient, but not nearly as romantic. The sight of the long line of cane poles leaning against the eaves of Mr. Newton’s sport shop on Savannah Avenue were always the harbinger of summer for me and, bouncing down the field road toward the pond this morning, I miss it. Turning off the road into the yard of the pond house that will always be Mama’s, a tiny fawn springs toward the branch. He is smaller than Owen, so new that the white spots nearly cover his tiny body, leaving only small streaks of soft brown. I am entranced, Daddy is bothered. He knows that fawn will grow and prosper by eating his cotton plants. Last week we fished with crickets; this week the bait will be worms. The cricket farm a couple of counties over has burned and there is no telling when crickets will be available again. For the foreseeable future, the more expensive worms will be the delicacy dangling from our hooks. Once in the water it doesn’t feel like 20 years. The heat on my legs, the rock rock rock of the boat, the sound of the paddle behind me moving from one side to the other as Daddy guides us to the spot where he thinks the fish may be bedding. And, most importantly, Daddy himself. His solidity, his certainty, his soft reminders. It was Daddy who taught me how to fish. How to bait my own hook, how to take fish off my line. And, in a way that my eight-year-old self could not understand, how to live. Move slowly through the water. Talk only when you have to. Be gentle with what you catch. Keep only what you can use. When I was about four, not yet tall enough to see the top of the kitchen counter, I stood on a stool and watched Daddy at the kitchen sink cleaning his catch from that day. Scales flew through the air like snowflakes with every flick of his brown wrist. The slices into the bellies of the bream were straight and smooth and I gazed in wonder I did not understand as he scooped out a spoonful of gelatinous roe and said, “These are eggs.” I was not afraid of the knife. I was not afraid of the thin red lines of blood that ran to the drain. I was not afraid of the occasional sudden fish flop onto the linoleum tile. I was interested and curious and safe. He reached into the next fish. With the tip of his pocket knife and thumb, he grasped a wad of entrails, and went to drop them into the pile in the sink that represented his day’s work when something caught his eye. “Look,” he said, pulling a tiny blob of fish flesh away from the rest. It was dull red and about half the size of a thimble. It was the fish’s heart. And it was still beating. The two of us were very quiet for a few seconds and in those few seconds the image settled into my memory, dug a den and burrowed in. Over the ensuing sixty years it has inserted itself into my consciousness over and over – light coming through the kitchen window, the earthy musty smell of fish, the tickle of a fish scale on my cheek. Today, though, it returns with more. Today the image has a voiceover, a recitation of everything I’ve ever learned from fishing: Move slowly through the water. Talk only when you have to. Be gentle with what you catch. Keep only what you can use. And never ever ever forget that, even outside the body, the heart beats on. Copyright 2021
- For Hydrangeas and Wonder Woman
The hydrangeas, known as Suzane and Uncle Bud, survived a brutal pruning last fall. They also survived a relocation mandated by the construction of a new screened porch. And they survived winter. Come the first warm day, they were covered in tight buds the color of English peas. Hydrangeas are my favorite flower and nothing makes 95 degrees and serious humidity bearable like the sight of a big vase of hydrangeas in the middle of the kitchen table. Alas, there will be none this summer. I walked outside the other morning to find that the deer – the deer at whom I do not shoot, the deer who wander freely through my yard and feast mightily on saw tooth oak acorns in the fall – had nibbled off every single hydrangea bud. They had tiptoed their way to within 15 feet of my back door, had actually walked across a significant portion of concrete carport, and banqueted on my buds. I did not cry. I wanted to. I wanted to find one of those deer and look him or her in those luminous brown eyes and pitch a fit such as has never been seen. I wanted the buck to spread the news, the doe to warn her children, I wanted every deer within a hundred acres to understand that one does not mess with the hydrangeas growing behind the little gray house. Instead, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that we, the deer and I, are neighbors. That we, the ravenous omnivores and I, are all a part of the same ecosystem. That we, the makes-me-want-to-say-a-bad-word trespassers and I, have to figure out a way to co-exist. I understood, of course, that the figuring was entirely incumbent upon me. I had a year to do it. But, then, the next day I went outside to water the geraniums and coleus and amaryllises – plants which are, apparently, not deer delicacies – and discovered one uneaten bud. A single survivor of the massacre. It was beginning to open, the tiny florets just barely peeking out at me. Like Wonder Woman against the Germans, I sprang into action. I hoisted a discarded wooden pallet onto its side, establishing its verticality by leaning one side against the foundation of the screened porch and stacking concrete edging blocks three high on either side of the pallet. It is not attractive. But it has worked. So far. I will not declare victory, though, until a fully-bloomed hydrangea head is flopping over the edge of my favorite vase. Until I am sure that my efforts have defeated the deer. Until it is clear that I have won. So every time I head out the back door these days I am glancing at the hydrangea bush, making sure my little blossom is still there. And in the glancing I’ve found myself considering what it means to fight for something you love. Does it always involve force and weapons? Doesn’t it sometimes require simply watching and waiting, being stubborn and unyielding in your love? Even without Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth there are some things that can’t be denied and one of them is that love does whatever it has to, even when that is nothing. I want that hydrangea blossom. I want to see it, hold it, sniff it. I want to revel in the fact that it exists because I protected it. But if I don’t get that – if my nascent bloom dies, if my great wall falls, if some maniacal deer plows through – I will still love hydrangeas. I will love hydrangeas and I will wait until next year. I will wait and stand watch. Copyright 2021
- Wrens For The Win
The windows to my study are shaking. The water hits them with a force that makes me think, for just a minute, that they may shatter. It is not rain that rattles the glass, but the pressure washer I hired to give Sandhill a bath. A much needed bath. Water and some kind of soapy something will wash away the dust and algae and bird droppings and whatever else has settled on the roof and walls around me since I last had it done. I wasn’t here the last time. I was still spending my days in a courtroom. But today I get to listen to the rattle, see the tiny rivers run down the glass, feel in my bones the rhythm of the shush shush shush. When I go outside I will smell something like bleach. It is a shame I can’t taste anything; I would like to say that home maintenance is a full sensory experience. When the shushing stops, I walk outside to find puddles on the front porch, shaking like Jell-O in the spring breeze. The cement of the carport is – rid of its clumps of red clay and yellow pollen – the color of cement, flat gray. There is not a spider web to be found in any corner of any window and I can’t helping thinking, as I walk the perimeter, that my humble little house looks like a movie set. I want to freeze this moment. A couple of days later a friend comes to visit. We are going to walk toward the river, to watch Owen look for something to chase, to cut eucalyptus and maybe some tiny mimosa blossoms. As we open the front door, a handful of dark birds swoop across the porch like it is a runway. The barn swallows are back. It’s only been in the last couple of years that barn swallows have found Sandhill and the nice high corners of the front porch roof. I love watching their acrobatic tumbles through the yard as they attempt to divert my attention from the nests; however, those nests are messy and, glancing at the shiny white rocking chairs and the shiny white columns, I can’t help but grit my teeth a little at how quickly my movie set house is going to go from pristine to polluted. In a recent episode of one of my favorite television shows the plot revolved around the patriarch navigating a difficult season with one of his adult children. The conflict was, in the way of television, resolved by hour’s end but not without the relationship undergoing a significant shift. In response to the son’s comment that he was glad the conflict had been resolved, the father, not so quick to agree, replied, “With every win, there comes a loss.” It stopped me cold. Winning and losing are not limited to fields and courts and courtrooms. We exist in not only a physical world, but a psychic one as well. And in both of them Newton’s third law applies. “Equal and opposite reaction” holds true not only in mechanics but also in mortality, for engineering and for emotions, in rocket ships and relationships. The win is when children grow up and create homes of their own; the loss is that they no longer need us in the way they once did. The win is when the friend moves into her dream house; the loss is that she is no longer just down the street. The win is when the wrens build their nest in the eaves and grace me with their dancing; the loss is when my movie set house turns back into just plain Sandhill. With every win there comes a loss. And with every loss an opportunity to see wisdom in letting go. Copyright 2021
- Books | Kathy A. Bradley | Author and Writer in southeast Georgia | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor. Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. |
Breathing and Walking Around Kathy's first book, Breathing and Walking Around is a record of four years’ worth of observations of common people, everyday events, and the natural world made from her home in the coastal plains of South Georgia. In short, personal essays she shares with precision and layer upon layer of sensory image "simple tales that emerge, in the end, as parables." Read More Wondering Toward Center In her second book of essays, Kathy Bradley continues her examination of the natural world as a prism through which to understand the human experience. With her family farm serving as the anchor, Kathy uses her observations of animal life, agriculture, and the seasons to create what she calls “a map key or decoder ring” for some of the dilemmas of twenty-first-century life. Read More Callings: A Story Corps Book In 2009, Kathy and her father Johnny participated in a Story Corps interview was later featured on NPR's "Morning Edition" and in 2016 it was chosen for inclusion in Callings, a compilation of interviews by Story Corps founder Dave Isay presenting stories from people doing what they love.
- Kathy A. Bradley | Southeast Georgia Author | www.KathyABradley.com | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor. Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. |
Beauty is everywhere. Join Thanks for subscribing, stay tuned! Let's Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our newsletter. Kathy A. Bradley A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley has been writing from her family farm in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor. Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center, for which she received Georgia Author of the Year Awards in 2013 and 2017. She has also received the Will D. Campbell Prize for Creative Nonfiction, was a finalist for the Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Award in Essay, and was a nominee for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA). Meet Kathy Book Kathy Books "Beauty is everywhere. Simple is better. Quiet is a gift. Let’s embrace what we already have, where we already stand, and who we already are.” Website Designed by Beola Le'Shaun Consulting Website Design by Beola Le'Shun Consulting
- Meet Kathy | Kathy A. Bradley | Author and Writer in southeast Georia | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor. Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. Meet Kathy, |