Itís really getting harder and harder to do this twice a week.
I figure that, conservatively speaking, I have written "From the Other Side" at various venues since about 1982. Thatís 24 years, but I didnít write it constantly all that time, so, letís figure 15 years, and I didnít write it twice a week all that time, so letís figure, 10 of that was once a week
Thatís more than 1,000 columns in my lifetime. Plus the E-zine fly fishing column Iíve been writing semi-regularly for three years now and you tack on another 150.
Try thinking of 1,150 original ideas and not get boring or start repeating yourself. It ainít easy, ya folla?
But I plod on, nonetheless. I feel like a whiner when I canít think of an idea, and I feel like Superman when I get a good one and everything comes off right. Itís what keeps writers going, I guess.
So I run through the ideas in my head. Speaking of the Man Of Steel, the newest incarnation of Superman starts in theaters this weekend, with Brandon Routh taking on the title role in "Superman Returns." I am pretty much looking forward to seeing it, but itís going to be difficult for me in a way. Christopher Reeve will always be Superman in my mind, despite the corny and disappointing turns the last two movies took. After his horrible accident and the following years of incredible bravery and determination, Reeve left this world a hero. In no small way, it felt like Superman died that day, too, and itís hard for me to resurrect him sans Chris Reeve.
The new movie is supposed to recycle some of the Marlon Brando (as Jor-El, Supermanís father) footage from the original Superman movie with Reeve, which should be kinda cool.
Letís see, what else? Patches is fine, not getting much column attention these days, as I mentioned earlier, because her personality, while nothing remotely near normal, has calmed considerable, as have her antics. Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in recent weeks was as we were napping on the sofa, the cat curled up under my arm as she loves to do. I was half-waking and moved a little and Patches must have been dreaming because it startled her so badly she came up fighting. All I saw was a blur of hissing, spitting calico lightning and a flash of agony then she was gone. I had three scratches to show for it and a look of "Whaí happníd?" on my still half-awake face.
I wasnít mad. I have been known to do the same thing if you disturb my nap.
Not much fishing going on, partly due to the damage caused by last yearís hurricane season to the freshwater fishery here, partially due to the fact that itís too stinking hot. I did take my pinou (cross between a pirogue and a canoe in case you didnít hear it before) out to a pond along the levee recently and cast for two hours for one bream, though it was a nice one. I may try again this weekend, but early in the morning this time so I donít have to race the dusk home, a difficult proposition when you paddle as badly as I do.
I found a beautiful yellow-flowered, low-growing and spreading plant at a pond I used to fish. Awesome thing, so I took a few cuttings and put them in a pot at home. That pond has since dried up thanks to the dreadful drought weíve been having and the parent plant is dead but mine has done so well I have moved it from a one-gallon pot to a big washtub and it keeps growing. It may, in fact, take over the yard and eventually the entire reservation some day. It likes to keep its feet wet and while it hasnít bloomed for me yet, I think it will in the fall.
Those of you who have been reading this dribble for years and years will recall that I lost my fig tree a few years ago. It was over a century old, far as I can tell, but I managed to save a cutting and it took root in a pot. I put that cutting in the ground two years ago and itís now about chest-high and doing wonderfully. I donít know exactly who planted the parent tree but I suspect it was my great-grandmother, Delphine Stouff. Iím grateful I still have itís offspring in the yard.
The mother tree had the most delicious crop of figs I have ever tasted. I used to get up in the morning, put on some shorts and shoes, pour myself a cup of coffee and go stand outside by the fig tree for breakfast.
"What, without washing them?" you demand with a scowl of disgust.
I believe that we adults have not a tenth of the wisdom kids have, i.e., all fruit is best right off the tree, and second, if you drop it, just blow on it and then itís okay to eat. Made your motherís eyes cross and sometimes she would tremble violently when you did that, but youíre still alive, ainít you? Nowadays we fret if thereís a gnat flying around your Snickerís bar, like itís going to put us in ICU or something.
Anyway, I took a bunch of those figs one time and dipped them in egg that I had spruced up with cinnamon and fried them in a skillet. Sacre bleu, mais cher that was better eating than you can imagine!
My father was not a gardener (wisdom from my father: "The most important thing to know about gardening, boy, is when that garden has to be tended thatís when the fish are biting") but my grandfather was and he always left one row just for me to plant anything I wanted, which was usually a cornucopia of stuff. I know today that it would have failed miserably as infrequently as I watered and otherwise tended it, so he probably was helping it along when I was off fishing with Dad. My favorites were the radishes, straight out of the ground. Second was the cantaloupe. Nothing like home-grown cantaloupe. We used to sit out there under the pecan tree nearby, my grandfather and I, watching our garden grow. He grew corn and beans and tomatoes and more. Iíd wave at my grandmother as she looked out at us from the kitchen window over the sink, and sheíd wave back, and sometimes I get confused when Iím standing at the sink now, looking out the kitchen window, and I donít quite know whoís waving at who anymore. The garden is gone, so is the pecan tree, but in my mindís eye, rows of snap beans and corn are there and my eyes are my grandmotherís eyes and I smile at the ghostly vision of the old man and the boy, sitting under the pecan tree, watching their garden grow.