Fact Rather than Parenthesis

It’s so silly isn’t it? How we grown men take up trout fishing not simply to pursue trout but to find some place, some special place, where we feel at ease. a place to belong. God loves a man that smells of trout water and mountain meadows, cheap whiskey and branch water. Which way’s heaven? Follow the trail and keep close to the stream. – Arby Mulligan, Hymn No. 1 (the only hymn) of the Owl Creek Gap Church of Universal Harmony, in On The Spine of Time by Harry Middleton.

As surely as I am addicted to wild places and wild water, I have come to realize I am also infected with an altogether different malady that I cannot completely shake.

That is time. Time is my disease. It is like a predator, someone once said, that stalks us all our lives.

Though the places I go to feel at ease and have no convenient spots to hang a clock, I can’t help but carry the clocks with me. Even though I stopped wearing a watch when my father died a decade ago, I can’t completely leave them behind. Like a cancer eating away not at my body . . . → Read More: Fact Rather than Parenthesis


I sat on a sawhorse to rest my aching back and feet, looking down the side of the boat and to the bright sun beyond.

Curly-ques of ribbon-thin cypress shavings rolled flirtatiously with each other in the breeze on the carport floor. My hand planes were on the boat, a short Stanley No. 3½ and a big No. 5. The metal frame is darkened with time and the wood handles are even darker, stained with oil from my father’s hands and mine. His trademark is etched into each one, NIX. It was the way his father marked his tools, too, a convenient way to spell “Nick’s” tool, with just a good file to cut it into the metal of whatever tool so needed it.

The sound, feel and scent of a sharp, well-tuned plane slicing through cypress are heavenly. I had just shaped the chine log, that is the long strip of wood that stretches from bow to stem where the sides and bottom meet. There in the cool air of a windy Sunday morning, I carefully clutched my father’s Stanley plane, pushed it across the chines and watched the ribbons of shavings emerge and curl up from the . . . → Read More: Legacy

Lil’ Wheels

The other unfortunate time in a man’s life is when he’s got to get a new lawn mower.

You know how I feel about cutting grass. Biggest single waste of time in the history of mankind. Why do we do it? I don’t know. I’d just a soon not, but the neighbors get antsy if I go more than a couple of months without mowing. Can’t imagine why.

About a month ago someone in my breakfast club said, “Gonna mow the yard this weekend,” and I looked at him with sheer malice.

“Are you nuts?” I demanded. “I don’t plan on touching a lawn mower until May.”

“Oh, not, you can’t wait that long!” they exclaimed.

“Possibly June, if the fish are biting,” I added with appropriate disdain.

But it had gotten to the point where the clover was about to take over the yard, and I knew I had to do something before a tribe of pygmies moved in. This is sovereign territory, after all. Now, my 1998 mower had seen its better days. Affectionately nicknamed the General after Gen. George Armstrong Custer, the anti-hero of Indians everywhere, the General had its rusting cutting deck repaired four times . . . → Read More: Lil’ Wheels

Big Wheels

So one of the best and worst times in a person’s life came around at last, much as I dreaded it.

They say the two happiest days in a man’s life are when he buys a boat and when he sells the boat. No, this is not a boat column. This is a big truck column.

My trusty old Chevy Silverado had just turned 11, and was starting to get a little long in the tooth (bumper? grill? Whatever…) I had known for a year or so it was going to soon be time to put the ol’ girl out to pasture (scrap yard? junk yard? My dad used to say, “Send it to Suttons!”)

It was a good old truck. Uncomfortable as the dickens, being a single-cab, base model bow-tie truck. That puppy didn’t even have cruise control and you had to move your whole arm to crank down the windows manually rather than with a flick of the finger. There was no carpet, and no CD player. But the old girl never let me down, and I’m grateful for that.

But I finally felt it was time. A quick check showed my 11-year use and 135,000 miles . . . → Read More: Big Wheels

Build It

There has been, as there usually is, talk about tourism during the elections in the city coming up later this month.

Though on the campaign trail there is talk of tourism enhancement, I can recall only a few serious talks with serious decisions about tourism at city council meetings.

In short: The city needs an annual budget for tourism, and that budget should be for capital outlay and advertising. Certainly the city’s development office is doing a bang-up job, but the mayor and council need to budget funds for brick-and-mortar projects.

We desperately are in need of signage. A lady came into the office here just last week asking what there is to see and do in Franklin. I referred her to the city development office and the Cajun Coast tourist office off the highway. I don’t know where she went, but I do know she was indicative of our problem.

The tourism effort needs bigger and more readable signage, and listen, I ain’t talking about those little blue or green highway placards. I mean billboards, big ones, like you see all the time on the highways: big, colorful, splashy billboards pumping up your community, luring people off the . . . → Read More: Build It

At Last!

Every country boy is entitled to a creek. If no creek’s handy, maybe a meandering branch will do for awhile. But it must have a few holes that he can’t see the bottom of. That’s an absolute requisite, and there’s no getting around it. (Havilah Babock)

I was up at 5 a.m. and on the road by six. Can I tell you that my heart was beating fast, my temples pulsing and my foot heavy? Thank goodness for cruise control!

We were off to explore some new fishing territory, but mostly, it was the first warm, dry day in what seems like about a thousand years. Scott, my best friend and brother, was about as ate up with cabin fever as I, worse, in fact, because he went up Friday and pitched a tent and wasn’t coming out of the woods until Monday.

There was no real intention to fish. It’s March, and the water has certainly not warmed enough for the fish to experience a rise in metabolism. We have wanted to explore new venues, but every time we went to do so in fair weather, we just fished all day instead. It’s hard not to.

By the . . . → Read More: At Last!


I used to be quite the camper when I was a teen, but I haven’t slept outdoors in a tent in probably 25 years.

Back then, though, my buddies and I would go out to “the seawall” at Lake Fausse Point on weekends. I am ashamed to admit that our camping out was more to drink beer clandestinely. Hey, we were a buncha kids.

We’d pitch a tent and build a fire, circle our cars around the entire encampment, and watch the mysterious lights glowing over Peach Coulee across the lake. Indian lore has it that a family of Chitimacha was along the lakeshore and spotted a white deer. They killed and ate it, which was a big taboo, and as penance they all suddenly went into trances and walked into the lake, vanishing under the surface. They can be seen on occasion still, transformed into balls of light, dancing over the coulee.

I remember once – during another one of those juvenile activities – a buddy of mine and I were on a double date and we went out to the seawall to park. The lights were dancing over Peach Coulee, and we watched them for a long . . . → Read More: Thin


WAY to go!

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this country, so we bear that in mind as we proceed.

Franklin Police filed charges this week on two persons accused in the murder of two people in early February. While Acadiana Crime Lab continues to process evidence – this ain’t CSI where results come back in the span of a commercial break – the police in Franklin did a lot of good ol’ fashioned gumshoe work and reportedly built a case against a 19- and a 16-year-old and brought charges of two counts of first- degree murder against them.

Mayberry it ain’t.

The last murder in the city was, coincidentally, a double homicide as well, on Third Street four years ago. Franklin police solved that one, too.

In fact, violent crimes in Franklin rarely go unsolved or unpunished. The police department often gets badmouthed, as most police departments do. Their job is not a popular one until you need them.

What I mean to say, is to the officers of the Franklin Police Department and their chief, you have proven – without the need to do so, except to the naysayers – beyond a shadow of a doubt . . . → Read More: Crimes