2016-08-24 / Opinion

BACKROADS AND BOBTAILS

Beware the Wrath of Outdoor Deities
by Bob Kornegay

I realize, of course, that mythology is just what the name denotes. It is a collection of fanciful legends and of little value other than as a source of song and story. In other words, all that Zeus and Jupiter stuff might have been fine for the ancient Greeks and Romans, but now, in this enlightened and pragmatic age, it bears no logic.

Still, despite all the contrary modern evidence, I must rather ashamedly admit to occasionally harboring semi-beliefs in certain deities that exercise a measure of control over elemental factors in the daily lives of poor simple mortals like myself. I am convinced, for example, that the Great Gods of the Outdoors are constantly looking down on me; if not from Mount Olympus, then perhaps from some Chattahoochee River bluff or the upper boughs of a tall Georgia pine. Furthermore, these outdoor gods are an extremely touchy bunch.

I believe this because these gods spoke to me one morning about three years ago. I should’ve listened, too. Should’ve just gone on back to bed. They tried to tell me in their own mysterious way that it wasn’t going to be my day.

About 30 minutes and 20 miles after I failed to listen to these patron deities of hunters, fishermen, campers, and hikers, a front tire on my pickup suddenly went flat for no apparent reason. Normally, of course, such a thing is but a minor inconvenience and no more than an occupational hazard. Not so this day, however. In the middle of a Coastal Plain river swamp there is no “minor”, and “inconvenience” often translates into “disaster.” As for occupational “hazard,” try “catastrophe” instead.

It was a disaster, for example, getting my overweight, arthritic self beneath the truck to reach the bracket where the spare tire was bolted. It turned catastrophic when the spare slipped from its fastenings and fell heavily upon my chest.

I tell you, friends, no flashy woman of my misspent youth ever left me more breathless. For a few moments, I sucked air like the victim of a World War One mustard gas assault. Then my lungs were shocked back to normalcy by the brushing of one bare hand against a still-hot muffler. Obviously there were no ill effects on my pain sensors or vocal cords.

Still, it did not occur to me that supernatural forces were at work here. Obliviously, I restored the pickup to an ambulatory state and proceeded to perform the outdoor journalistic chores ahead of me. After all, I had a work schedule and time, as they say, is money.

Time? Money? Oh, how true.

In no time at all I slipped off a foot log and dropped my camera into the creek, where it remains to this day. The sprained ankle eventually healed, but one does not, however, simply drop by the store and pick up $1,200 worth of Nikon or Pentax every day. There went that Pulitzer Prize for photography I expected to win that year.

Giving up my search for the long-gone camera, I limped back to the truck. There, I decided it was lunch time. Nothing like a sandwich, a Twinkie, and a Yoo-hoo to take one’s mind off his troubles, I say.

No, change that to “I said.” Past tense. I shall never say it again.

The gastrointestinal rumblings and stabbing abdominal pains 24 hours later reminded me it was unwise to consume certain foods that have spent four hours on the dashboard of a pickup truck parked in the hot South Georgia sun. Or maybe the outdoor gods just don’t care for sandwiches constructed from sardines, mayonnaise, crunchy peanut butter, and sliced onion. Whatever, food poisoning, the aforementioned sprained ankle, and a bathroom at the far end of the hall made for one “exciting” evening.

During the brief intervals between mad dashes, I monitored the burns on my muffler-fried fingers and scratched any one of a hundred redbug welts with my good hand. Why, pray tell, don’t chiggers ever attack body parts that can be scratched in mixed company?

Yep, I should have paid closer attention to the gods that fateful morning. Shoulda known it was gonna be one of those days the minute that mockingbird made a “deposit” on my head as I strolled down the driveway to fetch the morning paper. I reckon some of us are just slow learners.

As for today, will somebody read me my horoscope and pass the fortune cookies, please?

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