My grandpa was a dirt farmer who followed the rear ends of mules for more miles than I can contemplate. He would pause in the heat of the day while plowing, sweat dripping off the ends of his nose and chin to make tiny wet spots in the furrows at his feet, turn up a quart fruit jar full of water, squint his eyes against the sun’s glare, and empty that jar with great relish. Excess water soaked the bib of his blue overalls all the way to his crotch. That old man enjoyed drinking water.
And he enjoyed fishing. Early of a morning when he was not working, he would tiptoe to my bed and wake me in time to catch the sunrise. “Get up, boy. It’s time to go fishing.”
Those were some of the last words either of us spoke all day. There was no need for conversation as that crotchety old farmer and I loafed in the summer sun on the banks of Vian or Sallisaw Creek and caught a tow sack full of bream, carp, and catfish. We simply propped our cane poles on forked sticks, watched our homemade bobbers on the surface of the water, and dozed in the midday when the fish stopped biting.
In the late afternoon, we pulled in our lines, hoisted the wet sack full of fish, and, still without a word, trudged home in companionable silence.
“The little shallow streams, you kin hear ’em before you ever get to ’em,” Paw said. I called him Paw, he called me Boy. “The deep creeks now, Boy, the deeper they run, the quieter they are. They got more fish in ’em. More of everything. They don’t see no need to chatter and go on all the time.”
If ever you doubt whether or not God loves wildness and adventure, all you have to do is spend the night camped alone in a wilderness, canoe white water, fly an ultralite over a mountain, eat a rattlesnake. . .