One Ditch – Memories of the Fishing Holes Back Home

When I was a child, I was surrounded for miles by cotton fields, cotton gins, and the dark, rich soil that the Mississippi River had deposited there in earlier years.   Because the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri is the flood zone of the Mississippi River, the soil is so very rich that hardly any of it is wasted on trees. Occasionally, you might see a narrow line of vegetation, crossing the terrain, but that would probably be on the banks of one of the small creek-like waterways that were long ago dug there to catch the river, should it flood again.

Collectively, the waterways around home were called The Floodways. Individually, each of the bodies of water had one of the following less than illustrious names: One Ditch, Two Ditch, Three Ditch, etc. That is the honest truth.  During the 1950s and 1960s, there wasn’t a lot of effusiveness or ornamentation about Southeast Missouri, but it was enough. In fact, it was more than enough, and in many ways, I’d give anything to get back to the Gideon of my childhood again, but that playground is gone in every way but that of my mind.

One Ditch – Fishing Hole Back Home
Jacki Kellum Watercolor
Painted July 26, 2018

When I was a little girl, I would occasionally go out to One Ditch and fish with my grandma. We fished with cane poles and earthworms that we dug from my grandmother’s magnificent garden. I cannot say that I love to fish. I don’t like to touch the slimy creatures, and when I catch a fish, he invariably rips my hand open with his thorny fins. But I loved my grandma, and I loved digging around and scratching the surface of her dark and rich gardens–searching for worms.

Jacki Kellum Garden in New Jersey 2015

I still love scratching around in the dirt, and my days of walking along the ditch banks barefoot and allowing the mud to squish between my toes left a mammoth impression on me. I remember One Ditch. I remember poking twigs into crawdad holes, I remember my grandma, and I remember the cotton patches of my home.

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