Bill Prince: Fat Women Walking (memoir)
Southern Legitimacy Statement: Earnest and I were bird hunting around the back cornfield near the property line a the dairy we were hunting, when Joe, Earnest’s pointer spooked up a bunch of buzzards. Didn’t know the significance then but this was to be my encounter with a dead mule. How the mule died we don’t know but someone had dragged him to rot at the end of that field. Probably trespassers because the landowner didn’t have any mules.
The mule was swelled up about half again what his normal size had been I guessed and the sun had dried up the moisture inside him so he was bloated up like a balloon. Earnest poked at him with a stick till he worked a small hole and the mule deflated blowing out what atmosphere was in him and it sounding like a saw mill cutting slabs off a pine log, a high pitched whine.
We ran to get away from the toxic smell but Joe sat down and winded it like the dog he was. Yeah, I am from the south, South Carolina was where I was reared. The event of encountering a dead mule was just one of a million events southern boys encounter when growing up. I am legitimately southern, born in Georgia, reared in South Carolina and country bred and born, legitimate though because my momma and daddy were married and I was the second child of three.
Fat Women Walking
My wife, Jo, & I were driving to church last Wednesday evening when we disagreed on something so she began to straighten me out, which I need for her to do on a regular basis, at least she thinks so. When this happens my usual tactic is to try to change the subject by pointing out something in view that might be remotely interesting or asking her something about our grandchildren.
Any issue involving one of our grandchildren generally will redirect her thoughts and soften her so that her lecture is shortened. This time however we were passing in front of Barton’s pasture just around the corner from our house and I responded to her lecture by saying with excitement, “Hey, look!!!, there’s three donkeys in Barton’s pasture, that could be a lucky sign.”
She responded sharply, “Don’t try changing the subject!!!”, but she quickly finished her correction of my errant ways and inquisitively asked, “Just what did you mean? Three donkeys could be a lucky sign?”
My explanation was that we always looked for signs of potential good luck just before going fishing and Randy & I were going fishing the next day.
“Well, that sounds sort of superstitious or silly to me,” said she.
I told her that the idea went back to when a group of us were going to Pope’s Ferry on the Ocmulgee one morning and we talked about how our friend Troy always looks for positive signs to indicate that any time at all was a good time to go fishing. Drew had observed on that occasion that Troy didn’t need much of a sign to decide it was a good time to go fishing.
He could just maybe, for instance, see a bird fly by, and say, “There’s a bird flying by, that’s a good sign we ought to go fishing.”
I went on to explain that on the day Danny caught a particularly big fish, we had seen two fat women walking their dogs in the dark as we were heading to the river, therefore we always are looking, hoping to see fat women walking dogs in the dark as we go fishing.
As we drove along towards church, I told Jo that there had been some bad signs identified along the way, like one day I hit a buzzard with my truck as the vulture flew up off the road kill on which it was feasting as we headed to the river.
We all noted at the time that it might be a lucky sign, however that fishing day proved to be as nasty to us as that road kill looked as we gave it one more flattening as we went by. Still, I had hope that three donkeys in a field might be a good luck sign.
I called Randy right then and reported seeing the donkeys hoping to encourage him. Never one to need any encouragement, Randy was already excited about our planned trip to the river the next day. However, our trip the following day unfortunately proved to be filled with worse luck than the day I hit the buzzard.
Why do I say that?
I thought you would never ask. Soon after we started fishing, Randy and I split up to fish down either side of an island, when we met back Randy had his kayak turned upside down having knocked a hole in the keel about the size of his thumb.
He was poking some Styrofoam pool noodle material into the hole but it but it didn’t look like that kind of patch would work. I was at the time floating high & dry in my kayak which was riding on three new patches that I had constructed with epoxy glue the night before and I was cocky about how well they would hold.
The kayak dealer had professionally welded two holes before my previous trip and they had both failed on that trip so I had decided to try my hand with a homemade remedy. I did have some water weld epoxy and with that Randy patched his boat.
Though it was early in the float, I was rather pleased with my patched up boat but noticed that I had lost my soft cooler with all my 8 bottles of water somewhere behind the island. Randy gave me a couple bottles of sports drink to get me through the day, and we went on downriver. Shortly after the first two unlucky events, a dark cloud showed up and before we could take cover, we were in a driving rain storm for an hour with some high lightning and deafening thunder.
Kayaking on a river in a Georgia thunderstorm can be a frightening experience.
The next bit of misfortune came my way.
I lost what would have been my biggest fish of the year due to the fish dragging my kayak so close to a log pile that I couldn’t keep it out of the driftwood where it hung my lure on a log and pulled loose.
We both noted about that time that our patches were failing and both boats were taking on water. When we thought the worst of the weather was over the storm doubled down becoming even more threatening so we decided to make a run for it and paddled through the best fishing water of the trip without even fishing.
Despite our emptying the boats of their accumulated water they both filled up before getting down the biggest set of shoals that we had to negotiate before getting to the truck we had parked downstream. I managed to get down the steep shoals okay but Randy flipped his waterlogged kayak in the most violent part of the shoals.
Somewhere coming down the river, I heard a cracking sound and felt a weakness come into my paddle, like if I pulled on it too hard it would bend, when ordinarily it was very stout. I checked it when I got to the truck and there was a big crack under the sleeve where the two halves met in the middle.
This was a lightweight but heavy duty paddle, not an El Cheapo, costing well over a hundred dollars for a new one. Before we got to the take out landing, my kayak hull finally filled with water and slowly sank to sit on the bottom with me in it.
The river at that point was shallow so the boat simply sank about 18 inches and sat on the bottom with the river running over the top of the deck. I got out and towed it by hand on over to the landing. As we got to the take out landing the weather cleared up so that our furious paddling proved unnecessary and we could have fished more and been safe, not that we were burning the fish up, I think I caught one fish and Randy got skunked.
Getting back up river to where we had left a vehicle at the starting point went well but as I arrived back to my home, Randy called telling me he had just hit a deer with his vehicle.
I don’t know the extent of the damage but I think anytime you hit a deer with a Fred Flintstone car like Randy’s PT Cruiser it could be serious.
No matter what anyone tells you, for Ocmulgee River fishermen, two fat women walking dogs in the dark is a far better sign of potential good luck than three donkeys standing in Barton’s pasture anytime. I’d rather have a simple bird flying by, or would even settle for hitting a buzzard with my truck as a sign to indicate the potential luck of a fishing trip.
The next time I see three donkeys in a field while I am planning on going fishing, I’m not.