There#8217;s a Yankee on board

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2007

Hello. My name is Moonpie, and regular readers of this newspaper know that my name has been mentioned on these pages for years.

And so has my picture. In fact, my mug might have been in this newspaper more than what’s his name, Jim Councill, mayor of Franklin. And that’s saying something, since Mr. Mayor is like Alfred E. “What, me worry?” Neuman when it comes to showing up in photos. He’s all over the place. Sometimes I think he’s not even invited to some of the events, yet winds up getting his photo in the paper anyway. He can hear a shutter click from miles away. His hearing might be better than mine.

Still, I’ve got a territorial beef with my owner, Jeff Turner. He’s the Riverkeeper of the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers, which is nice and everything, but sometimes he loses his head.

I think he’s getting soft in his older human years. Like he did this weekend. He allowed a self-confessed, born-and-raised Yankee on the boat. Thank goodness I was dog-tired on Saturday morning and didn’t feel like going out that day. I’d had given him the what-for.

This knuckleheaded Yankee didn’t even know what a Cypress knee was. Even when he was told, it took three members of the Franklin Junior Woman’s Club to make a visual point, by literally touching their kneecap to create the teaching tool.

What are we to make of this Yankee from Long Island, where exists small streams and storm ponds where raw sewage is released directly into the waterway? Oh, wait. That’s how the Blackwater was years ago. At least that’s what my grandfather barked at us as we laid on old carpet remnants spread out around the wood stove in the basement of the house on cold winter nights. I guess jumping into a river in that condition to fetch a stick was quite the adventure.

Anyway, this Yankee asked a few questions, I’m told. Some might have been worthwhile, others probably not.

My man, Jeff, I’m sure got to talking about how the river, before the treatment plant opened, was pretty rank. I’m sure he also told stories about the tugboat traffic along the river, landings for the sailors, some Civil War stories.

I’ve heard them all.

But speaking of the junior woman’s club, beware of tales getting told larger than they actually happened, like fish stories that tend to get exaggerated with time. Jeff hosted three members of the Franklin Junior Woman’s Club on board for Saturday’s cruise. That’s fine. They’re local, except for the one member who’s from Georgia, but at least she was on the correct side of the War That Mattered.

As the boat neared its return, the talk turned to a lack of visible wildlife on the river that day. Sure, there were turtles, the usual cows, an occasional kingfisher. But no bears, no beavers, no eagles, no snakes (which I guess was a good thing).

Nearing Barrett’s Landing, one of the club members saw a groundhog scurry into its hole on the banks of the river (I can never get my snout into a hole like and find anything). Don’t be surprised if the story told at parties sometime soon becomes one where the animal was not a groundhog, but a 300-pound black bear with something in his mouth.

Tales like that happen all the time on the river. I should know. I’m Moonpie, the real keeper of the two rivers we call Nottoway and Blackwater.

Moonpie has no e-mail address, but he told this tale to Paul McFarlane, the Editor of The Tidewater News. McFarlane’s e-mail address is