Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lake Orange - August 2018

Bummed and in need of inspiration?  Well, I'd say things get better, it could be worse, blah blah blah, but I don't go in for empty platitudes, because I don't believe them myself. The best you can hope for is a recounting of my evening on Saturday, which lifted my spirits significantly, albeit temporarily.  Still, wtf not?

But starting with the evening is too late.  Even Saturday morning is virtually in medias res (which I looked up, was it "en" or "in"?). Friday evening is where this tale starts, because the week ended in a deep funk, recovery from which would surely involve drinking between 5 and 10 beers, with a glass of wine and some half-melted ice cream to go along with it.  Collapse into bed was the goal, and I managed to make it, with only a few bad choices along the way.

But my beer and wine consumption was on the upper end, and so Saturday morning, when I woke at 6 AM to see the sun streaming through the blinds, and hear the birds talking about whatever minutia occupy birds (Do you like worms too, Irene?), I wondered what fresh hell the day held.

Ohhh, how I lounged, not wanting to greet the day.  I read the news at great length, to assemble the consensus view on how yesterday was and how today would be, and why tomorrow would be better (or worse, since this was the Post), scratching myself where there were no itches, sitting on the front stoop reading Steinbeck (Tortilla Flat, now) because I feel like I read too much trash.

Oh sure, I did some laundry, made breakfast, washed the dishes, brushed my teeth AND flossed, but I never showered.  Saturday wasn't a day for civility or decorum, and I didn't want to upset the status quo.

But eventually, I got off my ass, said fuck it, I'm going fishing.

But first, you have to decide where to go, what tackle to employ, should I take an ice chest in the event I catch a mess, do I need gas, and all the other decisions that some people anguish over.  Me though, I got in the car and went.  There is something to be said for having a car absolutely packed with shit, in that you are prepared for almost any eventuality that can come my way.  Not that I've  planned for those eventualities, but whenever they occur, I add whatever to my car, and then next time, I've got this.

So I headed down to Lake Orange around 3, piddled around Orange for an hour or so.  Midday fishing is sort of worthless, since the fish are all on the bottom, out of the light, eating muck and going blurp, so it pays to wait a little, same as leaving a metropolis at rush hour, fuck that.  I ate lunch, which was two cans of green beans with salad dressing on top.  That was what was in the car.

I ended up putting in the boat just before 5 and fished until 8.  I caught one keeper bass, about 14 inches, fat fish.  Well fed off of shad or whatever it is they eat in that lake.  I also caught an undersize crappie, maybe 5 small bluegills and one large (a large bluegill to me is 7 inches or better), and a white bass, maybe about 6 inches, which I'd never caught.  Noteworthy though, the world record white bass was from Lake Orange.  Mine wasn't a world record, but it was a fish.

I took out at 8, which is now solidly dusk, in part because I, mostly my back and ankles, was a little tired of sitting in the canoe, and partly because man cannot subsist off of canned green beans for long. Went in to town and bought some cheese and salami to offset the healthful nature of the green beans.  Nothing like saturated fats to improve the mood, I always say.

Got back out to the Lake and put in around 9.  For the first 15 minutes or so, the mosquitoes made their presence known.  You should see my feet and legs, covered in little red welts.  Bastards, although on the bright side, there isn't endemic malaria in the US anymore. Thanks DDT!  People who talk about all of gods kingdom are full of shit, since pretty sure they'd be fine with nuking the mosquitoes and ticks.

However, after that 15 minutes, the temperature started to drop, and the mosquitoes sort of dried up.  And then the night was there.

I long for the times in October when you go outside, and the air cuts through your sinuses, down through the built up mucous, through the trachea, and fills your lungs with oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon, and all the other gases that make up air in some fraction.  And then you realize, all summer I've been breathing 10% water vapor, and that shit would be called drowning if people were honest with themselves.

But man, the air was sweet.  And it knew it didn't have to do anything else to make its presence felt.  It rested.  There was no wind at all, and the water was still.  I'd say like glass, but that's a cliche and I try to avoid those.  The water was still like a bowl of fruit being painted.

And the cicadas and katydids realized how rude they were being, squawking, and they quieted down, leaving the crickets and me to make all the noise.

It's those sort of occasions that some errant spaceship, on a trip from some nebula to some planetoid, beamed me up, removed my clothes with forceps and a leatherman, and then did their best to discover the secret to human virility.

Sorry, nevermind, sudden inexplicable tangent. Back to where we were:

It's those sort of occasions that make me wish I could be stealthy. When it's truly quiet, every swish of the paddle in the water, every burble of the hull splitting the water, is an indecent, perverse intrusion into nature.  But no matter how I try, even if I cleanly put the paddle in, and cleanly pull it out, and only apply power when it is submerged, it seems like the noise is unbearable, and that everyone within a 10 mile radius is going to be pissed at me.  Everyone sitting on their front porch, enjoying the evening, saying to their loved ones next to them "Nice evening other than that asshole on the lake."

But it's not that bad, just when you are in the boat, it seems bad. It's still not as bad as the experience of paddling around on a lake in the middle of January, where there isn't any ice on the water, there is no wind, and there are no bugs or birds to provide background.  Even more silent was, a few years ago, i went over to Mountain Run Lake, sometime January, and it started to snow, first intermittent, then steady, then heavy.  The snow muffles sound like nobody's business, a more peaceful time I've never had, and probably never will until I drop dead.  No fish though.

And the moon was up.  Given that I recently auditioned for the part of Tom in Sylvia, I'd hope you'd forgive me if I waxed sentimental about the moon.  And its not really sentimentality.  I know the moon is just a ball of rock, tethered to earth by gravity, as are we all (I tell you, I just chuckled, since it occurs to me if I was reading this, I'd say, what a load of bullshit.  But reader, you are probably unblemished by the toxic cynicism that makes up my core, so maybe you won't think so.  You'll have to tell me sometime.)

I don't know if I ever told you, probably did and don't remember, that I went to see the eclipse that passed over Tenessee last August, but I did.  Even though I know the moon is a ball of rock, when it went away, I wasn't really able to comprehend.  I recommend it, 2024 is the next one in mainland US.

But the moon was full, and was bright.  Even when the occasional cloud occluded it's luster, it still provided enough light to fish by.  And I did fish some along the dam with a jig, moved uplake and fished with topwater plugs, but the fish weren't hitting.

But it was just so nice, I paddled back and forth the length of the lake a couple of times.  I didn't take out until about 11:45.  Minus the crickets, I had the whole place to myself.

Oh oh!  I almost forgot, there were also bats flying around, mostly when the mosquitos were out, but I saw the odd one flying around afterwards too.

In truth, the experience is probably indescribable.  I found it transformative, and it lasted me a day or two.  If I was capable of telepathy, such that I could give you a sense of what the experience was like, I'd beam it over to you.  In the meanwhile, this will have to do.

Anyway reader, the only thing we can hope for is that the misery occasionally gets punctuated by relative peace.  I hope this gave it to you.