Swamp Rats

Swamp Rats

The man on the radio was apologizing for a technical glitch, and explaining that due to the impending “Bomb Cyclone Blizzard” that all nonessential personnel had been instructed to stay home. My thoughts were that if you are classified as a nonessential employee, maybe you’d better get your butt to work and figure out a way to make yourself look essential.

The weather man had predicted that the we would have light rain in the morning turning to snow at about ten, and finally into a full blown blizzard closer to noon. This we thought would give us time to ultrasound cows at the dairy, and still make it home before the blizzard hit.

The owner of the dairy, feeling guilty about having us ultrasound cows in what had turned out to be a torrential downpour had actually made a last minute stop at Wal-Mart and bought ponchos for all of us. A very thoughtful gesture, I thought.

Unlike most rain, this rain was not coming from above, but being driven into us from the side, by near hurricane force winds. This promptly ripped the poncho hood off my head. With one arm buried in the back side of a cow, I was unable to pull it back up properly, so it sat and flapped in the wind acting somewhat like a bucket that would periodically fill up, and drain down my back.

At dairies I am in the habit of tucking my coveralls into my overboots to keep the bottoms of my pants clean. What I had not counted on was that with a horizontal rain, my pants would soon be completely saturated, and that this water would then drain down my pants and INTO my boots. It was not long before, my boots were completely filled with water, and overflowing from the tops.

We manage to finish about half an hour after the driving rain has turned to snow, a snow that feels much like sandpaper as it is driven into you.

Back in the barn, as I am attempting to peel off all these layers of soaking wet clothing, and contemplating how I can find one of these jobs where I can be classified as “nonessential.” The owner of the dairy comments, “you look just like a drowned swamp rat! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as wet and dirty as you are!”

Suddenly I’m drawn back through the mists of time, to a time when I actually was more wet and dirty. I’m fourteen years old again and have just been dropped off at a local Reservoir with my best friend Shay and his little brother Jebb, for an afternoon of fishing.

We promptly head for our favorite spot on the lake, only to discover that due to recent rains, a creek that we have to cross is swollen and should probably be considered impassable. But determined to get to our favorite spot we attempt to jump it. Two of us nearly make it. Landing only about a foot short of the far bank. Our shoes and pants are wet and muddy, but we’re now near our favorite spot. One of us however lands in the middle of the creek, and manages to sink in the mud, getting stuck. This forces the other two to crawl back in, to rescue him. Now the three of us, are all wet and muddy to our waists. Unfortunately the boy that was stuck, lost a boot in the mud. With all the mud that we have kicked up, you can’t see the boot. So we are relegated to searching for it with our hands and feet. The three of us are now all completely soaked to the bone and look like some sort of swamp monsters crawling out of the creek.

The problem now is that Shay’s mom, Patti, had dropped us off in her brand new truck. We have a hunch that Patti loves us, but we know without a doubt that she REALLY loves her new truck, and that if we were to try to get back in her truck dressed like this, that she would skin the three of us alive.

In our minds this leaves only one option. We have to wash and dry our clothes before she returns. So we strip out of our wet clothes , and wash our clothes and boots in the lake to rid them of the mud. Then being the good Boy Scouts we are, we lit a fire, and began roasting our clothing on sticks over the fire just like you would a marshmallow.

This was all fine and dandy until a boat full of cute girls pulls up close to the shore to see what all the commotion is. By the way they were laughing and pointing you’d think they’d never seen three naked boys dancing around a fire, while roasting clothing on sticks.