Rising rivers, Falls City beer, and catfish
If you follow my Twitter feed or have read much of my self-obsessed writing, you know that I have a passion for finding meaning in the otherwise meaning less. However, with all of the distruction and outright rain-glutted misery that’s been saturating much of the country for the past several weeks, it’s difficult not to try to read something into it.
My Mom’s Bourbon County, Kentucky upbringing used to saturate my brother and I’s view of natural disasters and weather upset with such powerful insights as, “You know what? I think I know what’s causin’ all this bad weather…it’s that space shuttle they keep shootin’ up there.”
Lord. It’s a wonder I managed to make it to 46, having been surrounded with that level of society-altering satori.
A tributary of the mighty Ohio River runs within a mile or so of my new home in eastern Cincinnati; it’s the Little Miami. Shortly after the rains began a few weeks back, the various creeks that branch off the Little Miami quickly overflowed. Then, the nearby farm fields and playgrounds, as choked full of runoff as that troll-man in Man vs. Food is choked with pork drippings, began to change. When the snows gave way to a few days of warmth, they were shot through with translucent spring-green grass.
Now, they are inland seas.
I think I almost prefer these wet vistas to the alternative; literally hundreds of unnaturally-colored spawn, running about the grass, screaming as they chase a black and white speckled ball. Their breeders, hatched from vans and Volvos, sit dispassionately on the sidelines with cellphones.
Driving home, I saw one of the soccer goals, standing shamelessly in the waves that now lap against it’s uprights. I was reminded of an album cover, from one of my very favorite recordings; The 77’s “Drowning with Land in Sight.”
I grabbed my camera during one of the intermittent storm pauses.
From the entrance to the park, I could smell the scent of a childhood memory: arriving before dawn at a pay lake with my friend from down the street, Danny. His dad was a hunter and fisher, and, like father like son.
My dad used to fish, back when he and his drinking buddies would do their all-night-catfish-and-Falls City-brew-fests. Once he became a bastion of sobriety, he rarely took my brother and me to fish. I can still remember, through toddler’s eyes, the split-open Maytag box on the back porch. The throaty sound of the men, their voices slurred with the swill from the white aluminum cans cut through the yellow throb of the mosquito-repellent porch light bulb.
Glistening, squirming, barely alive on the cardboard, were the black bodies of their slaughter.
I clung to my mother’s capris as the men and dying fish writhed outside.
When Danny’s dad invited me along, it was extra adventuresome. With the heightened sense of “finally,” came sharper senses. Funny how that scene, and others like it, clamber together in my brain at the first mingling scent of mud, water, and dead fish.
Oh…and I have absolutely no flipping clue how to play soccer.