It was another one of them hazy summer evenings, so sticky and slow that all our thoughts and actions were blurred together into one long wave of seemingly endless time. Any northerner would have been appalled at our tolerance, but here, in the low country, summer swept over us like a big blanket, melting us together, and we were all too comfortable in our carefree lifestyles to resist.
Looking back, it almost seems like the feverish climate was what mostly kept us folks from keeping a clear head, so that we took what the day gave us and went along with it, no questions, no regrets. This certainly seemed to be true, at least, in the case of my Maw, who spent her days in the kitchen and her evenings with a ball of yarn in hand, no matter what was changing in the outside world.
For my Paw, the arrival of summer was a little more meaningful, since it meant that buisness in the shop would slow down a bit, and he would be free to leave on an annual fishing trip with his drinking buddies. It wasn't unusual for him to disappear for days at a time, hitting all the pubs along Roach Lake on one of his his whiskey and whitebass binges, but as he always returned with a mighty stack of fresh fish to fry for late suppers, my Maw didn't complain.
On the morning of the eighteenth of July, when I awoke before the crack of dawn to the jumbled sound of Paw's packing his fishing trunk, I stumbled out of bed and into the bedroom he and Maw shared. Even though the sun hadn't even begun to weave its glowing fingertips into the dark horizon, the heat was intense enough that inside my cotton undershirt and bikini bottoms, I was sweltering. He slammed down the lid of the metal cooler, rattling hooks and bait, and snapped the locks into place. "Well, Lou," he sighed, passing the back of his hand across his wrinkled forehead, "This weather's a killer for catching the big ones."
I slipped onto the lid of the trunk, and my weight made the locks click firmly down. "How long are you going for this time?"
He shrugged. "Not too long. Jimmy's got the summer fever and ain't coming, so we ain't getting as much as we normally do. It really does take three men to keep the boat up."
I nudged my head underneath the crook of his arm, and felt his warm dampness and familiar earth-and-tabacco smell radiate around me. "Can't I go with you?" I pleaded, nudging him. "You know I'm good with fish."
Paw laughed. "Well, we do need a third hand. How old are you now, Louise? Fifteen?"
I grinned. "Fifteen and ready for action."
He smiled at me. "That's the spirit! Go grab some clothes, and ask your Maw. We're leaving in half and hour."