Most of our creek hunts take place along the banks but today, with the water running so high, the best game is floating down stream. I follow Ricky’s example, find a nice long stick and watch upstream for my victim. And then I see it – the mother lode of rusty nails – a complete wooden gate, with hinges and latch floating heavy in the water. I brace myself at the water’s edge, stick at the ready; I see ahead how the current will turn the gate and where my purchase will be the most effective. The moment comes and I jab my stick into a crack between two of the planks nailed to the front of the heavy gate. The stick takes hold and the gate spins in the predicted direction. As the gate hits the bank at my feet creek water backs up and spills over the top of the gate filling both my shoes with water as it helps me lift the gate out of the water and up the bank enough to keep the raft of a gate from continuing its journey downstream.
“Hey!” I yell across the water to Ricky who has watched the capture from the other side of the creek, he gives me a cheer and takes off running for the next bridge. I pull the gate up the bank a few feet and sit on my bottom in the mud, drain my shoes and wait for Ricky’s help getting this prize home. I count five two-by-fours at least four feet long, enough one-by-six for a four foot by five foot deck, and everything comes with its own supply of nails!
“It’s a beauty Jimmy!” Ricky shouts as he slides down the slippery bank to where I sit. We sit and admire our conquest and get our breath, the real work will be dragging this mess to my carport but the battle for materials has been won. When we are rested I cup my left hand under the top rail of the gate, Ricky cups his right hand under the top rail of the gate, we drag the gate up the bank and to the sidewalk next to the road. We leave a trail of sawdust as the concrete sands the bottom edge of the gate. The scraping noise fills the neighborhood. People come to their porches. Ricky and I with big grins on our faces wave with our free hands. Some people just shake their heads and go back inside their homes, some wave back, one old guy on a front porch swing gives us a big thumbs up and shouts, “Way to go boys!”