Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Say Uncle

George swung the boat around past the main lodge and we slid to a stop as the gravel drive gave way to our truck and boat trailer tires with a loud, sliding, "crunch." We hopped out, each with a small overnight bag and a toothbrush (we've learned to travel light) and walked into the old farmhouse.

"HOLY GAWD LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN" twanged a wiry gentleman, swarthy and brown, to my right. Then:

"Hello George" (looking at me)


"You must be Jimmy" (shaking George's hand).

"No I'm Jimmy; he's George" I laughed pointing to my brother as George responded in kind.

"WELL, I WONDER WHICH THE HELL ONE OF YOU IS JIMMY THEN, DAMMIT?" he mused aloud to himself, scratching his chest absentmindedly; but not to stress over it, he immediately followed with:

"GLAD TO SEE BOTH OF YOU; WHICHEVER ONES YOU ARE. YOU BOTH LOOK LIKE TROUBLE." while simultaneously pumping both our hands.

George (to me, under his breath): 'That's 'Uncle Carlos'."


I: "Glad to meet you then, Uncle Carlos".

A languid flutter of movement caught my eye from across the room and I noticed another gentleman waving gently towards us, grinning out from under a large straw hat. He tipped his hat back, waved again, and, mopping his face with a hankerchief, said "Well, I'm John" - and promptly went back to sleep.

Just then my (real) Uncle Wayne popped around the corner and, grinning, interjected:

"Well, you're here then. Good. The grease is getting hot and we should have dinner going by about 9, unless Carlos here gets too deep into that mason jar of his." "CARLOS! Let loose of that jar long enough to bring the fish out here."

We heard a mumbled curse and the muffled crash of crockery from Carlos back in the kitchen, which Wayne accepted as a positive response.

Then it was "Ok boys, Let me show you around" and we were off on a tour of the property.

We followed the snaking two-track dirt road through the center of the land and quickly noticed that someone had planted a substantial stand of corn every few hundred yards throughout the property. The truck slowed nearly to a halt at each rectangle of plowed ground and I noticed Uncle Wayne cut his eyes around and furrowed his brows at us, knowingly, as we passed each row. Guessing at the crop's origin I loudly exclaimed "MY, now THAT is a nice stand of corn somebody has planted there, Uncle Wayne."

He slammed on brakes and, grinning ear-to-ear, the boy who was my Uncle shouted "you know who's corn that is boys??? THATS UNCLE WAYNE'S CORN!!!" Been working on it all season! Figured it was high time I learn to plant something useful.

Here, let me show you where I broke the tractor."

We made our way slowly through the fields and timber and we talked, ever more softly, of streams and deer and the changing of seasons; and we made our plans for the coming year. We planned for autumn and winter and the ducks and the doves and the deer; the squirrel hunt that was more drinking than hunting; and the great v-shaped flights of geese that would pass over late at night, silhoutted, against the moon.

Then, as the sun folded its wings in the timber behind us, we pointed our faces towards the lodge. The wheels hummed on the packed clay keeping time with the cicadas and, for a moment, our talk faltered and the fields whispered for us.

The rich purple-brown of twilight had overtaken us as we rounded the final bend and were greeted by the smoky glow of the porch light; one naked bulb, dangling, wreathed in smoke from the gently hissing fryers arranged neatly on the porch. The door opened and Uncle Carlos came out, beckoning, and I heard him say: "Pass me that jar, John, the boys have come home."


Kitty said...

Beautiful, well, except the thought of the smell of fish frying...not that big a fan of fried fish...

Anonymous said...

I loved it! Brings back lots of memories. Keep up the good work.