“Girl! Girl! You’re not fishin’ deep enough. You need to be four feet deep.”

Even though she was slaying them before he showed up, Farm Guy (FG) has appointed himself Joneen’s fishing instructor. She’s trying to politely ignore him but there’s a good chance he’ll be wearing her fishing rod if he keeps it up. “Girl! Girl! I know this pond like the back of my hand. You need to be fishin’ in that green water over there.”

“You mean the deep water?”

“Ain’t that what I said?”

We have permission to fish this pond occasionally. It’s not fished heavily and is chocked full of bluegills. It’s tucked between a couple of ridges almost a mile away from the road so you’d never know it was there. We dropped by the house to check in with the owner. FG happened to be there, too. As far as I know, he’s been a permanent fixture on the farm for decades. He lives in one of the smaller houses on the place and handles a lot of the upkeep.

We carefully navigate the tractor ruts and gates and are fishing by 11:30. It’s a great day to fish, partly cloudy and warm with almost no breeze. The action is fast and within 45 minutes, we have a bucket of ‘gills. I leave Joneen and Darryl and set up on the tailgate to start filleting. I’m making progress on the first run when I hear an ATV coming through the field. FG has decided to keep us company. He parks beside the truck and weaves his way over. He’s about halfway through a 24 ounce high gravity beer, which clearly isn’t his first of the day. Did I mention that FG likes to tip a few?

He hiccups and belches and proceeds to give me instructions on fish cleaning. I can only understand about half of what he’s saying but it seems I’m wasting too much meat. I show him a filleted carcass and ask him to point out the waste. He ignores me and says the knife I’m using isn’t thin enough. He offers me his pocket knife (which I politely decline). The sharpener I’m using is also inferior to the piece of flint he picked up in the hay field. FG keeps up a running commentary on my ineptness as I finish up. “That guy over there ain’t fishin’ in the right place.”

“That ‘guy’ is my wife.” I suppose I should feel guilty but when Joneen needs a hook I tell her to stay where she is and I’ll bring her one. Predictably FG jumps on the ATV and follows me across the dam. I relieve Joneen of her fish and retreat back to the truck to fillet in peace. I can’t hear all of FG’s instructions but by the way he yells “Girl! Girl!” every two minutes, I can tell my love is getting her money’s worth. Maybe I’ll be the one wearing the rod by the end of the day.

I suppose we could ask FG to leave us alone but he lives here while we’re the guests. Although he’s annoying, he’s not causing us any harm. This is a great place and if FG occasionally comes as part of the deal, so be it. Besides, I might get a column out of this.

Darryl moseys over to get a soda and giggle at Joneen’s mentor. “Uh-oh. Looks like I’ve got a problem.” The right front tire on his truck is very flat, way too flat to make a run for the tire place.

“Want me to help you change it?”

“Maybe there’s a better way.” Darryl yells at FG and asks him if he’s got a pump back at the barn. FG surveys the situation, belches again and allows that he might be able to help. He crawls on the ATV and heads off.

“50-50 he’ll either kill himself on the way over or get to the barn and forget why he’s there.”

There’s not much to do while we’re waiting except fill up another bucket with fish. In about 30 minutes we hear the ATV on the way back. FG says he’s put 150 pounds in a pressure tank so the tire will be 150 PSI when he’s done. Not bothering to point out his less than perfect grasp of physics we tell him to have at it. The 12 lbs. of pressure in the tire isn’t perfect but it’ll be enough. Darryl has to scoot while the tire is still up. I tell him I’ll finish cleaning fish and get his stuff.

“Hey, I’m runnin’ low on beer. Can I get a ride into Bland with you?” Darryl, one of the few true saints I know, tells him OK. Did I mention that FG isn’t allowed to drive?

Joneen and I catch a few more fish before we’re run off by a summer storm. We relish the quiet punctuated only by the occasional thunder.

“They say you should never burn a bridge unless it’s absolutely necessary; that you never know when you might need that person. I remember Gandalf telling that to Frodo when he wondered why they didn’t do away with Gollum. Guess we got a good example today.”

“Yeah, I had the match ready, but I resisted,” Joneen says. “Good thing Darryl saw the flat when he did, though. On the other hand, you and I need to have a conversation….”

Dale and Joneen Sargent are stewards of a tract of mountain land, Demeter, in Bland County. Dale can be reached at dsargent522@gmail.com.

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