MOULTRIE — I seldom watch fishing shows on television. For one thing, if you see someone catch one fish, then you’ve pretty much seen him catch them all. It’s not like he’s going to accidentally pull up a sunken treasure chest or a mermaid. Give or take a few ounces, it’s going to be the same fish.
That said, I watched a fishing show last night. But it was a different kind of fishing show. I guess you could call it a reality fishing show, and it provoked me to deep thought without me smoking a pipe and wearing a cardigan sweater. I did scratch my beard though.
So there were these Louisiana families fishing for catfish in the estuaries of the Mississippi River. These were commercial fishermen, not just someone trying to conjure up a fish fry on Saturday night. In the same show, a family 1,000 miles away in Minnesota was also fishing for catfish, also on the Mississippi River.
I enjoyed the contrast. People talk funny in both locations — cheese heads and Cajuns both making a living harvesting catfish. And even though there was great contrast in the lifestyles, the climate and the accents, a catfish tastes about the same once you meal it and throw it in hot grease. The key here is to know when to change out the grease. Cole slaw, on the other hand, can vary in taste from one side of town to the other.
So as I waxed philosophically in this moment, I was reminded that there is much more that joins us than separates us. And sometimes I think we may forget that.
In fact there’s a country song out right now in which the singer declares that “country must be countrywide.” In other words, the South does not hold a franchise on the sounds of Hank Williams or Willie Nelson.
In that same vein of thought, I also had just watched a documentary on D-Day. The man being interviewed was from South Carolina. He had shared a foxhole with a soldier from New Jersey. That was the first New Jersey American he had ever met, and it was under very trying circumstances. They had a lot in common though. They both wanted to live. They were both fighting for the same country. And I would bet both had the same thought, “We’ve got to quit meeting like this.”
Now back to the Mississippi (about the biggest word I know). This is the same Mississippi River that ran from the North to the South during the Civil War. The catfish didn’t know there was a civil war going on. They shared the same river apparently without great conflict.
And even today, these catfish don’t know that the people catching them for the same purpose talk funny. They don’t even know about the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.
Then the film crew moved over to South Carolina where yet another group of people were commercially fishing for catfish. They were using bush hooks instead of nets and traps. That took me back to my childhood when we would run trot lines on the river.
And even though the harvesting styles varied, the end result was the common denominator — golden fried filets. On the side were cheese grits, French fries, hush puppies, pickles, cole slaw and potato salad.
Again, there are those many things that bind us, hopefully more than separate us. This may be the first time I’ve gone so philosophical on catfish. I fish, therefore I am.
So I’m just wondering if we could have this big catfish supper and get our Democratic and Republican “leaders” to sit down and ponder the concept of common denominators?
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org