You really can't go back
6/1/2010 11:30:50 PM
You really can't go back...at least that's what the lady told me last Friday when I drove from my mother's place in Beckley to the North Fork of Potts Creek in West Virginia's eastern county of Monroe. It was a trip of nostalgic implications for me, a chance to go back to a place my dad and I frequented for many years, the site of my very first bear hunt with hounds. I wanted to fly fish a little but mostly I wanted to see if the big oak at the ford in the creek was still there, the spot where Isaiah Kidd and I were placed on stand to ambush Ole Blackie should the drivers that day roust him out of his bed.
The woods along the narrow one-lane road were lined with posted signs as I drove onto the property that had for many years provided access to the creek. When I drove up the drive a lady accompanied by four yapping house dogs came out into the yard to greet me. I told her it had been several years since I had been there and I realized this was not the lady that had given her permission the last time I was there with my dad. We had asked to park on the farm near the creek so Dad could fish without running the risk of slipping on the rocks should he try to wade the mountain laurel-infested stream bed as we had done so often before. "I can't give you permission," she said. "My husband would have to do that and he's not here. There's a creek down at Waiteville that you can fish," she said not realizing that the significance of my request was much more important than taking her fish. I told her I didn't keep the fish I caught and mostly just wanted to visit the scene of old memories but I didn't belabor the point. I got in the truck and drove down to the stream she indicated, actually the South Fork of Potts Creek, a stream Dad and I had always ignored in favor of its cousin to the north.
A mixed creel of fish, two smallmouths, a rock bass and a brook trout fell for my olive wooly bugger that afternoon in the South Fork. I released them all before the effects of thunderstorms back on Peters Mountain and across Potts Mountain to the east brought muddy water to the stream and ended my day.
I still wonder about that old oak tree. I'll bet if lightning hasn't brought it to its knees it's still there, standing guard over the memory of that morning when an aging Plott legend and a skinny-necked kid stood beneath its canopy over 50 years ago, listening hopefully in the chilled mountain air for the cry of the pack.
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