Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The old Chevy pickup pulls into the boat launch area slowly, it's occupants casually looking for a place to stop. The driver steps out and utters "come on boy" and a beautiful Golden Dog moves briskly from the seat to the ground in one fluid motion. He is a seventy five pound Golden Retriever named Douglas and he has been with the driver since the days the driver was a uniform for TWRA. They are closer than friends. Each of them knows what the other will do before he does it. The morning is young and sun is just coming up. A Heron is in a tree close to the truck and squawks loudly at the disturbance below. The interlopers can not be tollerated any longer at it bends its long legs and thrusts itself out into space on outstretched wings, squawking continually throughout the entire process. All is quiet as the driver unlatches all the teathers that hold the boat to the trailer. Many times in the past he had done this on the government boat that had been assigned to him by TWRA. This process was a daily ritual. He wore a uniform in those days. The entire preparation took about three minutes and the boat was backed down the ramp and on to the water. The Golden Dog followed the truck as it pulled the empty trailer up the boat ramp and into an empty parking space. Water dribbled off the trailer and carpeted bunks and trickled back toward the lake across the parking lot. As the driver stepped out of the truck and noticed the water trailing back toward the boat ramp and the lake; he thought "that is the path we all must take some day". He walked slowly down the boat ramp and lingered on the dock area before stepping onto the deck of the eighteen foot Lowe boat. Many memories flashed through his mind. A government boat, a huge bay, snow squalls on the lake, towing broken boats in to shore, a golden dog energized with the passion of young life, and a man in a uniform---------A man in a uniform sitting on a grassy bank who had just completed his last official run in the government boat that he operated every day. Those thoughts filled the drivers mind briefly before he got on the boat. He is a driver now but was a uniform then and he loved his daily tasks. Those were sweet days---- A sweet part of life. He pulled his hands out of his pockets and took a step toward the boat and said "get in the boat", like he has said a thousand times when he wanted Douglas to get on the government boat. The Golden Dog instantly responds by bounding onto the deck with one leap and takes his place at the point of the bow. The driver steps on board and sits behind the console with a groan. He feels just a little older than he used to. The engine comes to life. And a new adventure is under way on the Tennessee River. Like a little old man, the Heron sits and watches vigilently all that occurs below. It is early and he hasn't started his day yet. He doesn't know it yet but he'll have to deal with a pesky Golden Dog shortly.