Spring is nigh upon us. At least it seems that way. The forecast “one-to-three inches” of snow this week was gone the next day. ’Tis nearing the season for taking a youngster fishing.
Grandma and her offspring’s offspring lit out for Classic Movie night at the theater. I get to sit in the backyard, write a column, and watch fireflies.
The coming spring is warming, though barely unfrozen, like the pond the first time I try to go swimming after ice-out, when I know if I’d just jump in it would be fine for the rest of summer but not yet so I walk in slowly, and feel the blue slide up my legs.
One day, probably soon, I’ll just jump in all the way and be fine.
Funny how we remember some things and not others, especially parts of the same story. Like my first deer hunt. Dad and Mom hunted every year on Roy Stewart’s orchards, but that was adult sport; kids not invited.
Then one day Mom handed me her rifle and a bullet and sent me forth.
It happened a week or so ago with my spouse. She suddenly decided the garage needed reorganizing. Translation: Seek out piles of stuff of questionable future need. Either it goes to my heirs, the recycling center, or placed on one of those flea-market apps that might get other collectors to pay money for my junk.
“Nope, I answered. “But I have been working on that a long time.”
The kid’s name was Haven; he was five years old, and learning to use his powers of observation. How does one complain about that?
“Long before trolling had anything to do with an Internet that had not yet been invented, Dad loved to troll the lake in front of our home in a 16-foot boat with a 5.5-horsepower Chris-Craft motor idled back to provide only enough power to steer the boat.
On any normal summer Sunday morning, while Mom and kids were at church in town, Dad would be in his pew at the back of the Skowhegan boat, puffing Phillip Morris cigarettes and communing with the fish.
A successful session would end with him racing the boat toward home, carving a big sweeping circle in front of our home before cutting the power and coasting up to the dock, holding up a togue — Mainer for lake trout — destined for the evening dinner table.
That day, we were trolling along, he commanding me occasionally to be still because the fish could hear every time I shifted my foot (though apparently fish could not hear the motor, or the waves slapping against the side of the boat).
Wild turkeys are utilitarian. Ben Franklin, according to a 2013 article in Smithsonian Magazine, wrote in a letter to his daughter he thought the wild turkey “a true original Native of America … a little vain and silly (but nonetheless) a bird of courage.” Some have thought the wild turkey flightless, but they err. On the other hand, it flies only when it must, and then only for short distances.
When I was a lad, we were one of two families living year-round on the lake. Some summer folks from town had their weekend-only cottages in clusters; between the clusters were large trees that passing storms had pushed into the water, and lily pad farms where the broad leaves and deep grasses hid lunker Chain Pickerel.
Wind blowing across the frozen lake has carved a thin layer of snow into hard-packed ripples, like white mud that has flowed down a hill during spring thaw. The granddaughter and her young friend make tracks across the ripples, then take running starts to slide across the ice where the snow has blown clear and polished the glassine surface.
Being a boy with little patience for sitting still for long hours, I spent most of my fishing time alone with a homemade spooning rig or a spinning rod and reel set and store-bought lures. Dad, was more into dragging a two-inch piece of silver metal wrapped partially around a strip of mother-of-pearl.
He would go out for hours, trolling – the 5.5 hp Chris Craft Challenger outboard barely ticking over, keeping the boat moving just fast enough to steer as he navigated the triangular circuit, from our house to a curve in the far southern shore, to the island at the north end of the lake and back nearly home.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission reports its data collection funding has been cut, while more than 2,000 miles of waterways still suffering from mine drainage from coal mines abandoned nearly a century ago. And increasing numbers of smallmouth bass are being found cancerous and dying in the 100 miles of river below Sunbury, PA (near the Shamokin Dam).
Meanwhile, PA DEP Secretary Mike Krancer and PA Fish and Boat Commission head John Arway continue to spar over whether the river should be declared “impaired,” a declaration that would make the river eligible for federal funding to research the dying fish.
Google has started a new, free, travel opportunity. It’s called the Google Art Project, and offers young people of all ages opportunity to visit places many will never have opportunity to see – for instance, Freer Gallery of Art (Smithsonian), Denver (Colorado) Art Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art. Point your browser to www.googleartproject.com and start admiring.
Art, one of my college professors said, is the history of the tribe. To which I add, that and fiction. In both, the creators get to show life as they see it, without their stories being approved by Texas and California school districts.
“But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”
(From “Flowers are Red,” by Harry Chapin, 1978)
When my son started school, … Continue reading …
I went for a walk in the woods one day with the granddaughters, in search of the source of a creek which flows from the county where I live in south-central Pennsylvania, across the state line into Maryland, and joins the Monocacy River east of Thurmont.
A paper company once owned the particular piece of forest, 2,500 acres of the first tree farm in the state that gave birth to the nation’s forest conservation movement. There was a time when men with axes and horses took to the woods to cut trees and drag them to a nearby road, from whence they could be carted to the mill. Axes gave way to chainsaws, and horses to huge, powerful tractors called “skidders,” but even then, logging was a slow process. I know; I was raised where logging and paper making was the primary industry.
Chainsaws have been replaced by machines with air conditioned cabs from which one operator can virtually denude a mountainside in a matter days, instead of the months or years once required, leaving the owner to pay taxes for several decades while waiting patiently for trees to grow to usable girth. Glatfelter, owner of that 2,500 acres, had decided to sell the land, to let someone else pay the taxes and “call us when you’ve got wood to sell.” … Continue reading …