Once more, unto the breach, dear friends! Let us leave our pleasant surroundings to follow spring north.
After Bryan we pulled into a Corps of Engineers campground called Cossatot Reefs. It is part of their Gillham Lake project and offers 50 amps, water at select sites, and a community dump station. The sites are large and most have a view of the lower fork of the Cossatot River, one of the most challenging stretches of white water in Arkansas. Those are on the upper fork of that river whose Indian name means “skull crusher”. It’s famous for a 250 yard stretch where the water drops 40 feet across rapids with hard-earned nicknames like “Cossatosser”, “Eye Opener”, “BMF”, “Washing Machine”, and “Whiplash”. Even when Kat and I were at our white-water best, we never dared to try running that gauntlet. Now we just fish.
We camped here in early spring three years ago. Reba Higgins was then and is now our cheery camp host who was just a tad amazed that I remembered her name. (I cheated: we posted a blog on the campground and Reba’s gator skeleton way back then, and I re-read it.) Reba hasn’t lost a step or a mega-watt of that smile, and she might even be more energetic than before.
Kat fished the river at its ordinary level on our first full day there. My job is to take the fish off the line. That’s not as easy as it sounds because she doesn’t like to cork-fish, and the fish tend to swallow the hook when one uses a sinker and floating bait. That’s a standard trout rig, but it works for sunfish and bass as well. She landed a red-ear sunfish not quite big enough to keep. It had been hooked pretty deep. But with some needle nosed pliers I extracted the hook and returned a healthy fish to the water safely. Having scratched her fishing itch, Kat called it a day. We grilled burgers for dinner. The rains came and the river rose, singing to us as we slept, long and well. But the fishing was done.
Here and there on the road we encounter campers who won’t follow the rules. Sometimes they are meat fishermen who dump the fish offal on the bank or into the river. Perhaps they play bad music too loud, too early or too late. There’s many ways to annoy your neighbors, and chaining a whining dog to a tree really gets me. Kat hates to see pets run loose. And so it came to pass that our nearest neighbor was given a very young black and tan puppy our second night there, but we learned this only later. The puppy, running loose, befriended Kat the morning of his first full day at Cossatot Reefs. She leashed him up, made me fix him a plate of meat and rice, then apply flea treatment.
Kat paraded him around, and a 30-ish female explained “He’s our dog, but you can have him.” Their son had named him Marzan. When Marzan needed to go they simply put him out. Very soon he’d get lonesome (no Mom, no littermates, no Puggsley the kid) and yip to get back in. Sometimes he’d yip for an hour or two, and they continued to put him out day or night, rain or shine, warm or cold every day they had the poor beast. Kat has rescued feral cats, a bloodhound, tried to run down a greyhound, and even found the owner of an escaped bovine. Ain’t no way them hooligans could escape without benefitting from a piece of Kat’s mind. Or three, as it turned out. Kat told Puggsley’s mom where the cow ate the cabbage. And later, where she ate the collards, and then the squash.
Marzan was returned to his biological Mom a day later. We left Cossatot a day early.
In war there are no winners.