How to Catch a Muskrat
By Dale Angel
It was a shameless pond, sending seductive invitations by way of a gentle wind pushing wavelets carrying diamonds across the water. Birds flew in and out of the thick brush along the edge. The far end had ducks…fluffy baby ones.
“Stay away from the water!” was so much noise as our parents screamed the words on their way to the store. “Don’t go near the water!” They were barely out of sight. We were already there.
Something moved across the smooth surface, coming toward us and creating a V in its wake. We didn’t move. It came just within reach.
My brother leaped out with stretched arms to grab it. He finally surfaced. I pushed cattails with my foot. He seized hold and crawled out.
His sopping wet overalls was damaging evidence. We ran back and built a fire in the wood stove and shoved them in the oven.
Meantime, to mitigate my part I decided to peel potatoes for lunch. The family butcher knife in my hands was like using a machete to peel grapes. The potatoes were nubs.
My brother opened the forbidden crackers and wouldn’t give me any. He ate them all.
Dad came in carrying groceries. Smoke filled the air. He grabbed a broom and used the handle to fish out the burning pants.
Dad was stomping out fire as my brother told them I had eaten the crackers and wouldn’t give him any. He was seven going on fourteen. Already a hardened criminal. He invited me to play 52 pick-up. You know…he drops a deck of cards, and I have to pick them up. I hold grudges.
The nubs were boiling over while war was going on over new pants with a waist versus work overall, which my brother hated.
We went back to the fields to pick cotton. My sisters and I practiced harmonizing songs we heard on the radio. Meanwhile, my brother whispered “Let’s tie a rope to a figure four trap to catch that muskrat!”