The Observer, April 8 

From our bureau chief in Rouseau, Dominica, this dispatch from the island's daily newspaper, the Chronicle:

“The body of Mr. Felix Christmas was found floating off Mero Beach yesterday by a tourist. His son said the death was very, very fishy. Police are investigating.”

Where to begin? Felix as in Merry? Fishy as in smelly?

Air Force Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, a native of Cabot, with the 305th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, is doing his seventh tour of duty in Afghanistan and would like a favor.

He's not asking for a handout, DannaKay Duggar of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History says. He's written the museum to ask for information on how to buy at a discount 30 3-by-5-foot nylon American flags. He wants to fly the flags on American helicopters delivering school supplies to Afghan schools and then return the flags to the many American communities that donated the supplies.

Duggar says we can do better than direct him to a place to buy flags. She's asking organizations to buy the flags and donate them to Beason; the museum will get them to him.

It's not just that he's from Arkansas or that he's in Afghanistan. It's also that Beason ran across New Jersey last summer to raise money for Gold Star Moms, mothers who've lost a military son or daughter. The run won him the Chevy America's Hero award.

After a long week at the job, The Observer was looking to relax a lot, drink a little and maybe even listen to some live music. So we headed down to the Town Pump after punching the clock late Friday afternoon to sit out on the porch, sip beers and listen to Bonnie Montgomery (an Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase stand-out) and Mandy McBride pick a few tunes.

All of our requirements were met. A few good friends showed up to help run up the bar tab, the music was stellar and the beautiful Arkansas spring weather provided the perfect backdrop for it all.

There's something about sitting around with a few good friends, enjoying the breeze and listening to unamplified folk standards that made us feel like we were in on some kind of secret. Montgomery and McBride took requests and threw in a few originals to boot. The duo will be doing a similar show at the Pump each Friday this month.

The audience, a small one by normal standards but enough to pack the porch, sat quietly, talking only in between tunes, happy to just be there.

The Age of Pollen is upon us, citizens. When we walked out to The Mobile Observatory this morning to get in, it looked like it had been dipped in yellow cornmeal and was ready for the fryer.

The Observer's aunt has a pond at the back of her place, and when the sun popped out and the weather got warm the other weekend, she talked us into going to wet a hook. It's been five years or more since the last time Yours Truly went fishing, mostly because we don't have the equipment anymore, but also because we're an early-life burnout on the sport. Ma and Pa Observer were freaks on the subject, taking us on weekend fishing trips all summer back when we were a young'un. In our youth, we loved it, but as the years bore on, we came to hate it with a purple passion reserved for things a teen-ager once loved as a child and has put away, but is forced to do against his or her will once he/she hits The Difficult Age.

Standing there on the bank, The Difficulties of being between boy and man long behind us, we found again that simple joy of standing almost perfectly still in a warm place with a fishing pole in your hand. In the shallows, the cattails rustled, and minnows speckled the surface of the water, fleeing before what our father's voice ? him 10 years in the grave ? told us was probably an unseen bass. Corks and lures festooned a tree that hovered over the edge of the water, the shadow below tempting both perch and anglers. Water trickled over a small spillway and down into the marsh.

We didn't catch a damn thing, but it was lovely, lovely, lovely.



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