A trucker with a load of lumber was working on his rig at the service station. As I walked by, he asked, “You walking alone today? Where’s your partner?”
Evidently, he knows us by sight. Many of the men who refuel there are regulars. They know us, but we don’t know them.
I said, “He’s playing with trains in Tennessee. They’re the big kind you ride on.”
The man was a local, judging by his accent. I could understand him, though, so he wasn’t raised far from civilization. His face was weathered, making him look 20 to 30 years older than his hair. I say that because his beard matched his hair and had no gray in it.
I was surprised when he stretched our greeting into a conversation.
“You have any hobbies? Anything you like to do?” he asked.
“I love to write – not books or novels, but a blog.”
That was a bit foreign to him, so I asked if he had a hobby. Immediately his face beamed, and he said, “Fishin’! I love fishin’. Sometimes I eat ’em, but mostly I throw ’em back. There’s a big pond connected to the Pigeon River over near Canton. I catch fish in the river and throw them in the pond.”
I said, “One time my dad called our school to pick us up. I don’t know what he told the school, but he told my brother and me the fish were biting like he’d never seen them before. Your put your hook in, and a fish would bite it. That’s the only time he ever did that.”
In the middle of my story, the man said to keep talkin’ as he reached for something in the cab. He began to swipe at his phone and then proudly showed me a set of photos of the fish he caught that broke the state record. The first time he caught it, he threw it back after estimating its weight. When he got home, he asked his son to Google the state record. He was sure his fish was larger. Another day he went back, caught the same kind of fish again, weighed it, and returned it to the water. He rattled off the statistics to prove his victory. The fish was beautiful, rather greenish and shiny. I wish I could remember what he said it was, but I’d not heard of it.
The object of walking is exercise, but the destination is Jonathan Creek. If I’m talking with John, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the stream. Can’t do two things at once! Having been a canoeing instructor at a Girl Scout camp long ago, I marked the “V” that I would have headed for in a canoe. On this misty day, I listened to the water gurgling over the rocks and watched leaves shoot the rapids.
This is the best time to watch the creek. Leaves float when they first fall and tend to sink a bit when waterlogged. I pick one as it goes by, watching to see if it makes it through the rapids. Some get hung on a branch or plastered to a rock. I always wonder how far they will go, because the water that flows at my feet will eventually pass New Orleans and into the gulf. Today I saw a large sycamore leaf fall from the tree, and it danced and twirled on top of the water. It was dunked, but rose again to sail under the arch of a stick and on toward Tennessee. I doubt it will make it to the big arch at St. Louis.
Closer to home, I chatted with neighbors Bob and Les, both walking dogs. I saw Bob first, and he said Les’ tiny dogs don’t like boxer Dolly. Continuing toward home, I found Les who said his dogs are afraid of Dolly. A few minutes later when I had turned into our street, I heard an outburst of yapping behind me. The little dogs were expressing fear and disapproval, and I’ll bet Dolly looked at them with bewilderment, wondering why they didn’t want to play nice.