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Fishing

Fishing is a sport that has no divides.  It does not matter if you are male or female, two years old or ninety years old, rich, or poor, everyone can enjoy fishing.  Fishermen come in all shapes and sizes too.  There are tall fishermen and short fishermen, fat fishermen and skinny fishermen.  There are red fishermen and white fishermen, yellow fishermen and black fishermen.  There are fishermen of many faiths and religions.  There are fishermen that fish in rivers and creeks, fishermen that fish in ponds and lakes, fishermen that fish in marshes and swamps, and fishermen that fish in oceans and seas.  There are fishermen from the artics to the tropics.  I suppose that anywhere you can wet a hook, there are fishermen to be found nearby.  For some people, fishing is an occupation.  For others, it is a sport.  But for the lucky and most fortunate it is a way to unplug from the world, relax, and commune with God. 

Oftentimes, when I go fishing, I go for none other than the simple pleasure of enjoying God’s grand creation.  Whether I am casting for trout in a mountain stream beneath tall hemlocks in the cool of the morning or popping top water plugs on a small farm pond for bass on a golden afternoon or sitting on the bank of a lake under a blanket of stars, waiting for catfish to swallow the bait, God’s beauty is all around me.  I have even found myself annoyed at times when the fish are biting, so much so that I have reeled in the line and set my rod aside.  How do I commune with God?  The first half of Psalm 46:10 tells us…  “Be still and know that I am God”.

Life is so busy.  So hectic.  So full of stress.  Slow down.  Do not let the good things pass you by. How do you do that, you ask?  Well, first, you must identify the good things.  It is not hard.  They are usually free and found in abundance if you only look for them.  Go get a fishing pole, a can of worms, and find a shady spot on the bank of a small pond.  Wet your hook.  It will come to you and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a few fish.

“I fish to scratch the surface of those mysteries, for nearness to the beautiful, and to reassure myself the world remains.”  ~ Carl Safina

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Orange You Glad it’s Christmas?

Did Old Saint Nicholas leave nuts, peppermint sticks, and oranges in your stocking on Christmas Eve?  Looking back, I used to think that was the strangest gift to leave a kid.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, just knowing Santa had filled those stockings always made it fun and exciting to empty them on Christmas morning, and I loved eating everything in there, but why nuts?  Why oranges?  It just seemed like an odd choice.  I mean, if you’re going to put food in my stocking, then how about some Christmas cookies and fudge?  Come on, Santa!

A Visit From Santa

As I grew older, I reasoned that maybe that’s what my parents got in their stockings when they were kids, so it was part of their Christmas tradition, one that brought them joy and happiness, an experience they wished to share with their children.  My parents were born in 1935 and lived in the rural foothills of South Carolina.  Things like oranges, Brazil nuts, and peppermint sticks were real treats back then.  They were in fact, a rarity.  Think about that and let it sink in.

Checking His List

As I recently called up some of these fond memories, I decided to do a little research, so I consulted professor Google and I discovered that oranges in Christmas stockings is a tradition that lives on even today!  I also discovered a charming little story behind the tradition.

Coke Santa

St. Nicholas was born in what is now present-day Turkey.  He inherited a large sum of money and devoted his life to helping others, and eventually became a bishop.  As the story goes, St. Nicholas heard of a poor man who could not find suitors for his three daughters because he had no money for a dowery.  St. Nicholas visited the poor man one night and tossed three small sacks of gold down the poor man’s chimney.  His daughters had stockings hanging by the fire to dry and the sacks of gold just happened to fall into the stockings.  The oranges left in stockings today are a symbol of the gold that St. Nicholas left in the stockings for those three girls.

Pepsi Santa

It’s a charming story and whether true or not, I’m inclined to believe that during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, oranges were a scarce fruit, especially in the north, and with many families stretched thin and financially strapped, finding an orange, a few Brazil nuts, and maybe a peppermint stick in your stocking was a luxurious treat. 

Another Coke Santa

Take stock of what God has blessed you with this Christmas season and be sure to share your good fortune with those in need.  Remember the poor, the sick, and the shut-in.  Remember those that are hurting, those that are lonely, those that are afflicted and suffering.  But most importantly, remember the lost and what Christmas is all about…

Nativity

And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”     ~Linus Van Pelt

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Roost Behind the Moon

As flour is than main ingredient in bread, chickens are the main ingredient in any farm or homestead.  Easy to care for, they provide eggs and meat for our table and endless hours of pleasure and enjoyment.  Let’s start with eggs.  Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, sunny side up eggs.  Deviled eggs, Easter eggs, hard-boiled pickled eggs.  These are so many ways to prepare an egg, not to mention they are also used in many recipes for cakes and casseroles.

Rooster, Hens, and Chicks

How about the chicken, also known as the Baptist Bird?  Well, at the top of the list is fried chicken, of course, but whether you fry it, bake it, roast it, boil it, or grill it, chicken is a main staple on any farm table, especially for Sunday dinner.  Think of all the delicious parts.  Breasts, legs, thighs, and wings.  I prefer dark meat myself, so I always reach for a leg and a thigh.  But there are a few other parts, not quite as popular, but every bit as tasty.  Necks, hearts, gizzards, and livers.  I absolutely love fried chicken livers.  Give me a bowl of fried chicken livers, a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce, and an ice-cold Coke and I’ve got a meal that would look proud sitting beside any Texas-sized T-bone steak. 

Chickens and Flowers

Add a rooster to your flock and now you have a sustainable flock (and an alarm clock).  In the spring and summer, you will be able to enjoy watching a mother hen clucking to her clutch of babies, scratching in the dirt, teaching them how to look for food.  Nothing is sweeter or more precious than a fuzzy baby chick.  You can NOT hold a baby chick and NOT smile.  It is good medicine for the soul.

Chickens and Wagon

Years ago, I guess back in the depression years, chickens were often stolen.  Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly character in our Sunday comics is often depicted running from the Sheriff with a chicken in his sack.  It was such a problem, even songs were written about chicken thievery.  Below is one of my favorites.

Roost Behind the Moon

Boy, did you ever do anything like stealing chickens?

Oh chicken, oh chicken, you may go up in a balloon

Chicken, chicken, you may hide behind the moon, doggone you now

Chicken, I never let a fowl be

Ten thousand dollar warrant for the fowl on earth, he don’t roost too high for me

I got to thinking ‘bout chicken, late the other night, man, I couldn’t hardly rest

I jumped out the bed, grabbed up my old shoes, thought of where some chicken was at

I grabbed big buffcoat, stuck him under my arm, something I never let fall

I don’t think I’ve robbed your henhouse til I get your roost, poor chicken and all

Chorus

Ah that chicken made me awful mad the other night, man, that’s something I didn’t like to take

I grabbed my little haversack and down across my back, grabbed the chicken right by the neck

Said I turned around, quick as I could, a chicken hauled away I declare

I won’t steal meat and bread outta the cook’s pot, I’ll steal a chicken from anywhere

Chorus

Ah that police arrest me last Friday night, you couldn’t think of what’s it about

I’m going down the alley where I lived at, a lot of chicken tied in my house

I say, you may carry me to the pen’tentiary wall, I’ll go to work out my time

And just as quick you put me on the L&N track, I’ll have chickens on my mind

Chorus

“Steal a chicken if you get a chance, Huck, because if you don’t want it, someone else does and a good deed ain’t never forgotten.” ~ Mark Twain