Dog Paddling Across the Bluegrass: Chapter 4

“I didn’t see any oars in the boat,” I said, frustrated I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

“Can’t steer a canoe without any oars,” Frankie said, scratching his chin, “I like you, Woody. You folks have nice manners and you make me laugh. I’ll give you a set of oars.”

“You’re awesome,” I said, hugging Mr. Frankie. Mom, Dad, and Chloe thanked him too. Fifteen minutes later, the four of us were in the boat, ready to catch a mess of fish.

“Chloe and I can paddle,” I said, once Dad had pushed the boat away from the dock. “I’ll take this oar. Chloe, you can take the other.” After several minutes, we’d made four complete circles.

“These guys must be professionals,” Chloe said, pointing to a canoe coming our way. There was a guy and girl in the boat. Unlike us, they were moving forward in a straight line.

“Feeling dizzy?” The guy in the canoe laughed.

“How’d you know?” I asked, realizing I was a bit woozy.

“You’re going in a circle. I’m Sam and this is Amy. Want some advice?”

“Sure!” we said.

“You have to coordinate your rowing,” Sam instructed. “Otherwise, you’ll keep going in circles. Who’s the bowman?” Chloe and I looked at each other.

“If two people, or pups, are steering a canoe, the person in front is the bowman. The bowman sets the pace and watches for obstacles. The one in back is the sternman. Their purpose is to steer. The bowman and sternman paddle on opposite sides.”

“Since you’re in the front, you want to be the bow-pup-girl,” I asked, giggling.

“Sure, Woody.”

We worked hard, paddling in an alternating pattern.  Finally, we moved forward.

“That’s what I call dog-paddling,” Dad praised. “How ‘bout we stop and wet a line?”

We put our oars down and grabbed our poles and bait.

“How do I put the crawdad on the hook?” I asked.

“Like this,” Chloe said as she took the crawdad out of the bucket and put the hook through its tail. Then she cast her line in the water. Bugs scared some girls, but they didn’t scare Chloe. I baited my hook and cast my line in the water.

“You’re quite the angler,” Sam said, praising Chloe’s skills.

“Angler?” Chloe replied.

“Yes,” Sam answered. “It’s a person who fishes with a hook and a line.”

“Thanks,” Chloe answered.  “My brother entered a fishing tournament in Western Kentucky,” Chloe continued. “We’re going to stop at lakes and rivers along the way and practice boating and fishing.”




“It’s starting to rain,” I said, feeling defeated.

“It’s just a shower,” Dad answered. “If it were thundering or lightning we’d have to leave, but a rain shower won’t cause any harm.”

“Won’t the lake flood?” Chloe asked.

“It’d have to rain cats and dogs,” Dad answered. “This light shower will be over soon.”

“Where does all the rainwater go when it hits the ground?” I asked.

“Let me tell you what happens before it hits the ground. Water on the earth’s surface evaporates – meaning the sun heats it up and turns it into a gas. The water collects as a vapor and makes clouds. The water in the clouds gets colds and forms condensation – or becomes liquid again. The liquid falls from the sky as rain or sleet or hail. It’s called precipitation. Now to answer your original question, some of that precipitation will soak in the ground and move through the soil. We call that groundwater. It irrigates our crops and feeds our springs,” Mom answered. “The water that collects on top of the ground is called surface water. Some will go in the lakes and rivers. Animals and insects will drink some and the rest will go to the nearest watershed. Then the water cycle starts over again.”

Mom must have known I was going to ask what a watershed was because she started explaining.

“A watershed is an area where all the water drains. It may start out in a small watershed like a ditch or a creek, go to a larger watershed like a river, and eventually will go to an even bigger watershed – the ocean. To answer your question Woody, this water will go to the Levisa Fork, then the Big Sandy River, then to the Ohio River, then the Mississippi River, then the Gulf of Mexico.”

I was trying to understand when Mom spoke.

“That’s why it’s important to keep our land and streams clean and free from garbage and pollution.” That was information I could easily understand.

As I listened, I realized my rod and reel had gotten heavy.

“You got a bite,” Dad exclaimed. “Reel it in, son!”


“Lift your rod and start reeling.”

I bet over to get a better grip on my rod and reel and felt myself start to fall…


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