A snowy day’s considerations and frustrations

Very large flakes of dense, gushy, large, wet snow are falling. The falling snow provides a refreshing sight, enabling me to wish we could move to the Galapagos Islands, so that I might become a curator of tortoises, and I could quit reading the news.

As always, there are intervening considerations.

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Filed under Creation, Photos, Reflections, Seasons, Weather

The Ice Returns to the River

p1020592Following another temperature drop into the low 20s, patches of ice returned to a section of the Snake River near Asotin, Washington.

Pisca-Dory’s Garmin fishfinder showed a lot of fish directly under our bonny boat. The fish moved slowly and mostly vertically, and from their 8-15-foot depth, they showed no interest in our lures. The tugs on our lines were most likely river weeds and the River’s currents.

The clouds blotted the sun, leaving us cold, but our propane heater kept us from serious chill.

For my husband and me, fishing is not defined by the objective of catching fish; if it were, we would shun the River all winter, and that is not an option. We like staying in touch with “our” River.

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Filed under Action & Being, Fishing, People, Places, & Things, Photos, Places, Seasons

Score: Blackberry bushes: 3 lures, Us: 0 fish

My husband emailed me just after noon, and said he could wrap up his work day around 3:30 and we could meet at the pond where we caught a good number of trout last year. The pond is stocked with hatchery trout by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and had just been stocked for the season.

It occurred to me that “playing hooky” might have been derived from hook, as in fish hook, as in skipping school or other obligation, to go fishing. However, etymologists believe “hooky” is derived from Dutch and refers to stealing. I refuse to believe them. I was excited my husband had an hour before his day’s usual end to go fishing.

We saw a few fish circles in the water, and my husband saw a wake of a fish swimming just below the pond’s surface. Other than that, the trout adroitly eluded us. Completely. Not a nibble. Two of my lures and one of my husband’s bolted for some inconveniently tall, shaggy blackberry bushes.

I surmise that the fish were still fat and happy from being fed at the hatchery, and that they were also cold. I know we were. I know my hands were frozen in my thermal-lined leather gloves.

But we were there, at the pond, fishing, on a Wednesday late afternoon. As Robert Frost concludes in “The Road Not Taken,”

“And that has made all the difference.”

evans-first-castMy first cast of the season in our favorite trout pond

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Fishing, a fire, and transport to 1970

Yes, of course we went fishing yesterday–the highest and best use of my husband’s Presidents’ Day holiday. The sky was variable, but the rain left us alone. We were working on some tasks at home until mid-afternoon; we didn’t think the fish would miss us.

At one point around 3:00 in the peaceful afternoon, I turned around to look at the opposite side of the river. I saw a broad plume of very dark-grey smoke, higher than anything else on the land. It looked to me to be at least 40 feet high, but I have no idea how high it actually was. “My God, there’s a fire!” I said with amplified volume. I somehow was no less terrified of the fire some miles away across water than I’d have been had we been closer. My husband turned quickly from the near shore and our fishfinder. We were speculating whether it was a group of subsidized housing units or a storage unit. I was trying to think within a referential context of Clarkston, Washington in 2017. But my mind wasn’t there.

My mind was in Isla Vista, California, in 1970. I was coming home from a Latin final at UCSB, handing my driver’s license over to a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy. He asked where I was headed. I assured him I was going straight home. He assured me I’d better follow that plan. I was glad I lived in Goleta, and no longer in I.V.

I no longer remember whether this was before or after fellow USBC student Kevin Moran was shot and killed by a riot control trooper whose shotgun had a defective safety. Kevin had been working diligently with some other altruistic volunteers, putting out fires set by rioters.

The fire my husband and I saw across the river yesterday was the result of a man trying to repair his truck in a rented shop. He had other vehicles and several containers of volatile fuel in his work area, and evidently too few precautionary safety provisions.

But I saw, and continue to see, another fire entirely–one that likely seared my memory forever, deliberately set by stupid looters and self-styled idealists annoyed with the Isla Vista branch of the Bank of America, who decided to shove a burning dumpster through the bank’s door, 47 years ago.

I suppose it’s a PTSD thing; if it is, I sincerely hope you do not understand.

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The River’s consolation

No crocuses. No daffodils, no tulips. No spring flowers yet at all. We usually have flowers by now, and we haven’t had a stem or leaf emerge from the ground. Even at five hundred feet lower elevation, spring is getting off with a yawn.

But fishing goes on! Fish remain cold and sleepy, but the ice is gone, the quest is on. We fished from Pisca-Dory on the Snake River in a light but cold rain with wind. We had our lunch in our boat on the river. My hands froze when I took off my gloves to eat. Our little propane heater warmed them enough.

Enjoying the river from our bonny Pisca-Dory taps my sensory responses to spring as surely as our beautiful flowers have done in previous years–and they may yet emerge.

My husband set up a small video camera on our boat’s deck to record our outing this 40-something-degree rainy day.

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Filed under Action & Being, Boats and Boat Building, Fishing, Nature, Reflections, Seasons, Videos, Weather

Effieland and its feudal Lady

p1020589cHalvor has a supervised visit in Effieland. Effie greets him warmly; Halvor greets her in kind.

Moments later, her mood changes. She takes a swipe at him. He hisses at her. It makes me anxious and I miss the shot. I open the gate for Halvor; he is desperately ready to leave. I assure him the tiff was entirely Effie’s fault. I promise him I will work with her on her hospitality.

p1020590“I’m just not a play-group person. . .”

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Pisca-Dory’s first launch of true Spring

At last–a sunny day in the warming spring–and we went fishing. Alas, the fish were 8-15 feet below us, and still too sleepy and cold to test our lures. Fishing does not always yield a catch, nor is fishing defined by catching fish. Going out on the water and casting our lines is nonetheless the soul-profiting act of fishing.

The weather was sunny and felt mild in the 40s. The water was 34°-37°F and unlikely to inspire self-respecting fish to surface. It was a beautiful time to be out on the Snake River.

ready-to-rollReady to roll. . . and we’re just 10 minutes from the launch!

onward-pisca-doryVic at the tiller, and we’re cruising at a pleasant 11 miles per hour

frost-frozen-treesI loved the white frost-killed branches of these willows. They brought to mind a motif, “Death is the mother of beauty,” from Wallace Stevens’s poem, “Sunday Morning.” The trees might grow back later in the spring.

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Filed under Action & Being, Fishing, Nature, Photos, Places, Reflections, Seasons, Weather