"Three Cold Beers and One for Me" - Patrick McPhee

 

"Three Cold Beers and One for Me" - Patrick McPhee
 
 

The kitchen windows provide clear view of a local

Ox-bow bend in the North Oconee River.

Disturbances in the calm water are easily seen as ripples

the same concentric circles after a rain drop splash

speeds away in crests and troughs of reflection

sky, tree green, black and sun-bright rings that undulate

away from the anomaly.  This afternoon

ripples made by men are much larger

these anglers who work their way from downstream

slog up the gut of the river in crashing waves that center

on each fisherman, their rhythm with rod and reel

the silver glint of nylon fishing line’s hiss and splash

when the lure settles in a shade-pool under low branches

in full summer leaf, all up and down the river bank.

 

Never saw anyone like these three though—wading and casting

unique for this stretch of river. What the hell!

These guys deserve a reward, three cold beers and one for me!

 

I grabbed four beers from the fridge, put them in a small ice chest

slung it over my shoulder and walked down to the river bank

just upstream of the fisherman, each following one cast with another

as they made their way toward me.

   “Hey! You’re the first wading fishermen I’ve seen along here. There’s been kayaks and canoes, but you’re the first ones standing in the water.”

   “Our dad taught us to fish like this. I’m Ned, by the way. That’s my oldest son Kip. The serious guy over there’s my brother Charley.” Charley looked up.

   “It’s a long time since we been up here. We don’t do much fishin’ anymore.

   “Well, I’ve never seen anybody fish the river like you guys, so I brought ya’ll a reward.”

   “Oh,Yeah! What’s that?”

I reached into the cooler, pulled out a dripping

cold brown bottle and held it up by the neck.

   “How about a ice cold beer with a twist-off cap?”

   “Heck yes!” Charley grinned and waded toward me.

   “How about you guys?”

“Yes sir” Kip said. Ned smiled and nodded “OK”.

Both waded across the river and soon each man in the fishing party

had a bottle in their hand and tossed back their first long swig of ice cold  beer.

   “Seein’ you in the river surprised me. It’s shallower than I thought.”

Ned looked upstream, “The dark river bed makes it look deeper than it is.”

Kip lowered his bottle, “Sure dad, but we had to swim for it downstream.” Kip looked at me.  “We like the sport of fishin’!  We catch ‘em and we let ‘em go.”

 Charley finished his beer. “That’s about it for me.” 

    “Here, I’ll take the empties.” Charley handed over his bottle.

Kip said, “Thank you sir!” He gave me his empty, “Thanks again!”

then Kip and uncle Charley wadded upstream as they cast their lures.

Ned handed me his empty bottle, “Why’d ya bring us the beers?”

   “A reward, like I said”. 

   “We appreciate it.” He nodded and went on his way.

 

I watched the fishermen work through the upper shoals.

White water glistens in the hot afternoon sun and I observe

the last silver glint of fishing line move out of sight

behind an upstream river bend and into the past.

 

“Why’d ya bring us the beers?” Indeed

I am become old and know that today, will one day

be back in the day, when blue sky seemed

bluer, white in the tumultuous froth of August clouds

brighter—a happy, olden-times day

when a stranger would give out ice cold beers

and all would quench a deep thirst

enjoy the company of sportsmen

small talk and banter and place:

a  river scene in a young man’s memory

an old fisherman’s “Tall-Tale”, yet to be told.

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