Written By Galen White
Some of the most enjoyable times of my youthful days were spent traipsin’ through the woods and pastures around home. Dixie, my faithful canine companion, and I might start out in the woods in front of the house, but end up down on the banks of White Creek, which was the exact opposite direction we started out.
My imagination always dictated who I was and what I was gonna do on these forays. One day I might be Tarzan, actively – and in my mind, accurately – playin’ out the scenes I had watched on television. My imagination dictated the same for Dixie. Of course, she was a dog and had no idea I thought of her as one of the great apes. On the other hand, it is quite possible she could have thought of herself as a mighty African lioness, and that I was Cheetah, Tarzan’s chimpanzee pal. She never let on to me, though, that such might be the case.
Another day and I might be Jungle Jim or Lincoln Vale – you remember him, don’t ya? Of the TV series “Everglades”? Ron Hayes played the part of Constable Lincoln Vale who sped across the marshy plains of the Everglades in an airboat, dodgin’ alligators while enforcin’ the law and capturin’ bad guys. Although the series only ran one year – from October 1961 through October 1962 – I watched, totally transfixed, and dreamin’ of the day ol’ Galen would be scootin’ across the water in an airboat just like ol’ Lincoln.
Obviously, I had some kinda fascination with jungles and swamps. Still do, I guess.
Anyway, as I grew older I graduated from bows, arrows, and spears made from saplin’s, to more serious weapons like the .22 caliber rifle and a 20 gauge shotgun. Small game, such as squirrels, rabbits, and quail were an added entree to the dinner table. And if the season was closed on those morsels, then coons, possums, and armadillos feel to my deadly aim.
Now, for those of you who are aware of my “deadly” aim, you know the old sayin’ that “even a blind squirrel can find a hickor’ nut every now and then”. The bullet is deadly; my aim? Well, that’s when you apply that old sayin’!
Regardless, the aim of this tale is that there was always one peculiarity that always occurred. And, it did so regardless of whether or not I was Tarzan (or Cheetah, depending on your perspective), Jungle Jim, Lincoln Vale, Roy Rogers of Superman.
Somehow, some way, and right in the middle of my imaginative play or serious hunt, I would suddenly find myself completely surrounded by briars. No matter how much I tried to avoid ’em, briars seemed to spring up around me, threatenin’ to tear the clothes and hide off my bones.
Seriously, once I realized I was in the middle of a briar patch, I would look back in the direction I came and be completely amazed as to how I had wandered into such a prickly situation. Surrounded on all four sides, and seemingly underneath as well, stood a solid, impenetrable wall of briars. Brand spankin’ NEW briars with points that glistened like sunlit diamonds! Them’s the ones that ain’t never been used before, you know.
There you were, walkin’ along in blissful ignorance, when all of a sudden you find yourself danglin’ three feet off the ground while bein’ stabbed by millions of needle sharp briars. And when you try to back away, all those needle sharp points that are now anchored deep into your hide, explode into quarter inch grapplin’ hooks that tear out chunks of meat and hide with every movement you make. Even breathin’ causes anguish and a loss of blood.
You know, logic would have you believe one or two of the razor sharp briars would have dug into you well before reaching the innermost core of the patch, thus givin’ you ample warnin’ of what you were gettin’ into But, noooo. Apparently, the briars point away from you until you are deep enough into their network that they know you cannot escape without leaving huge deposits of flesh and fabric.
In my humble opinion and based upon experience, briar patches should be labeled by Homeland Security as a weapon of mass destruction.
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.