This summer’s days went by in a daze

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 9/8/21

The calendar says Labor Day has come and gone and with it went what many folks refer to as the last weekend of summer.

That, of course, doesn’t mean we’re through with hot summer weather. A …

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This summer’s days went by in a daze

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The calendar says Labor Day has come and gone and with it went what many folks refer to as the last weekend of summer.

That, of course, doesn’t mean we’re through with hot summer weather. A quick check of the seven-day forecast, which I have learned to do on computer since I can’t seem to actually catch it on the tube (who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks?), tells us to look for some high 80s and low 90-plus days before we pull out the old snow sled.

I’m not sure how I feel about global warming, but I do know I’m not convinced that exhaust fumes from a herd of cows do more damage to the atmosphere than John Kerry’s jet. It seems to me we’ve had more hot days without rain in the last decade or so than I seem to remember happening when I was a fresh-faced boy of 7 or 8. In those glorious summer days of long ago, I’d be up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in my back yard when a fast-developed thunder boomer would roll by and Mama would holler from the porch to “get in here before you get hit by lightning.”

That kind of adventure seemed to be an almost everyday occurrence then, while today it’s more like a special event. But whatever the weather, the fact remains that summer 2021 is itself now pretty much a memory, and I’m wondering again how come I didn’t get everything done from the vacations to the planned projects.

As far vacations go, I’ve sort of given up on the beach, at least the water part — the getting in it, that is. That wasn’t always the case. In those same fresh-faced boyhood days, I was in it every time I got the chance, even with the sand in my shorts. Then almost 40 or so years ago I had a vision (figuratively) of why I probably shouldn’t spend too much time in the ocean.

I had bummed a ride to the Outer Banks with some friends for a week of surf fishing, something I’d only heard about but which they did with regularity. Of course, I had no equipment. But they said not to worry, that I could borrow their stuff, ranging from rod and reel to waders so I could “walk out where the big ones are.”

I just hadn’t thought through exactly who the “big ones” might be.

One night around midnight, when the moon made the world was as bright as a Friday night football field, I donned the borrowed waders and struck out to where the rest of the folks were standing in chest-deep water and having what seemed to be the time of their lives fishing for Red Drum.

We said a few words to one another and then turned to the task at hand. I gave my tackle a pretty good toss and flung the bait and weight out front of where I stood and settled in for a record-breaking catch.

At some point, I began developing a case of cold feet. And not because of the water temperature.

It had been years since I’d seen the movie “Jaws” and I hadn’t thought about in forever. But after finding myself standing about 50 to 60 yards offshore at around one o’clock in the morning, the thought came to me that there is stuff that swims around in four to five feet of water that could eat me if it wanted to. And then I figured out that if by chance I made the wrong move, I could find myself stepping into a ditch on the ocean floor which would then put the top of my waders below the surface of the water and ... well, you know.

The next good idea that came to my mind was that I should move toward the shore as quickly and intelligently and calmly — and carefully — as possible. My prayer life improved dramatically at that point as I beat my retreat toward firmer ground; I promised the Lord that if I could make it back to shore I’d never do that again or bother Him about helping me with that particular need.

I have kept that promise.

And since that night I have expanded it to include water as deep as seven or eight inches.

So as summer comes to a flying halt, I’m also wondering how come I still haven’t finished cleaning out my study or the storage building out back or laying in next winter’s supply of wood so Shirley won’t have to walk too far to the heater, and so on and so forth. I have studied on that somewhat, however, and I believe it may come down to the reality that if I were actually to complete those projects, I couldn’t fuss at myself for not getting them done.

Life it like that, I suppose. Sometimes things that seem like good ideas really aren’t. Other times some things egg us on and still others remind us that, at least for awhile, we hope, there’s always tomorrow to try again.

At this stage of life, I’m thinking ahead and wondering how summer 2022 will turn out.

I am, however, pretty sure it won’t be about getting into the water at the beach, especially since word is out about a certain 12-foot-long alligator at Oak Island. It’s his world; I don’t need to wade through it.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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