I sometimes get into a little trouble in my writing with the description of where cattle drink in our part of the country.
We’ve had this discussion before, but I wanted to give this idea one more good scrubbing. Then maybe we can lay it to rest.
A tank is a pool, is a pond, and if it’s big enough, it might be a lake, but not a lake in the sense that it’s an impoundment for drinking water or recreation.
The whole thing depends on which region of Texas you inhabit, or where your feet might be planted at any one particular time. Growing up in Lamar County in the northeast corner of the state, it was a pool, but when I use that word, move-ins think I’m talking about a swimming pool.
and you can use some pools or tanks for swimming, I guess, depending on whether they’re spring-fed, or how much cow flop can be found on the banks, but a lot of folks out in west Texas don’t have too many places to swim, so they’ll dive right into what some might call a water trough or a stock pond (think above-ground swimming pool), but it’s different out there because they’re filled by a windmill pulling icy water from deep aquifers, but all the same, it’s water for cattle.
I’ve done the same in my younger years, and the water is usually pure and cold out west (unless it’s gyp water, which is full of gypsum that clogs pipes, ruins coffee makers, voids water heater warranties and gives visitors a roaring case of diarrhea).
Here in the eastern part of the state, when you get out of certain pools, you might smell a little high, so I’d reserve swimming for those east Texas pools with fewer cows and more spring water.
Now, behind the Pine Curtain in far east Texas, you’ll find the word pond. To some folks, a pond is where goldfish and koi live, usually relegated to back yards. If you remember the old Beverly Hillbillies television program, they talked about a “cement pond” in their backyard, which was of course, a swimming pool.
I reckon they use the word “pond” in the Ozarks to describe a watering hole for cattle.
Now that I think of it, Woodrow uses pond when he’s talking about a pool on his land in east Texas, not far from Centerville. He grew up in the city, so I’m not sure why he hung his hat on that word.
We were getting ready to fish one day when he brought it up. “Let’s go down to the pond and catch some big red ears.”
“You mean you want to go catch some sunfish at the pool?”
Setting his tackle box on the tailgate, he cut his eyes in my direction. “I meant what I said. There are some big bream in there now.”
“By that you mean the tank has some sunfish that have grown to eatin’ size.”
“There are some warmouth in there, too.”
“We didn’t catch anything but red ears the last time.”
“I caught a crappie.”
“You caught one little dried up white perch.”
He frowned. “It was black.”
“Then you caught one little dried up black perch.”
“They’re crappie, no matter what the size.”
“In the northeast, they pronounce ‘CRAPpie.” He knows. He was born in Boston.
“But they’re not crap.”
“Exactly. The proper pronunciation is ‘croppie.’”
“Not CROOPie. Crappie?”
“So why do they say it like that?”
I shrugged “Why do people from different regions of this state look at me like a dog looking at a new pan when I say pool.”
“Because that’s where you swim.”
“I’m not swimming in that nasty water. I’m too old.”
“There’s a spring in the bottom.”
I pointed. “You know that little neck that funnels water in from the north side? And all that mud?”
“Well, it stays boggy all the time, and it was a hog waller the last time we were there, I’m not putting a toe in that nasty water.”
“But you’ll eat the fish out of it.”
He couldn’t leave it alone. “Wallow.”
“That’s what I said, waller.”
“You need a dictionary? It’s pronounced wallow.”
“Not where I come from. Hogs waller in mud. They like to waller in their pens, too.”
“Pins?” He knew what he was doing, talking like a Yankee we worked with several years back.
We stared at each other like we had good sense for a long time.
“Are we going fishing or not?”
I chewed my lip, thinking. “As long as we don’t swim, and I can catch a crappie or sunfish from the pool.”
I couldn’t give him the last word. “Shellcrackers, or how about Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, improved bream, rouge ear, or my preference, or sun perch?”
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]