He stood in the field, just over a hump, where only half of his body was visible. He seemed as if he was aware of his surroundings and, in a moment’s notice, could disappear into the shadows of wooded oblivion.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not an accomplished bass fisherman. I know that the intense explosion of a largemouth on a popper in the weeds is as dramatic as anything you might experience in the outdoor world, but with so many different pursuits it is truly difficult to master them all.
Summiting a small hill east of Snake Mountain, I spot them in the distance. The elusive, magical wild asparagus. I slow down and check my rearview mirror for interlopers. I am on a dirt road and no one else is behind me.
My gun comes up to my shoulder, and I begin to breathe in measured cadence. In through the nose, out through the mouth. My heart beats wildly in my chest. I feel the adrenalin tingling in my arms and neck.
A few months ago I had a quarrel with a dear friend over something so petty (at the time it seemed to emphasize our inescapable differences) that it tore us apart by the sheer will of my own ego. I will share how absurd that disagreement was because, again, it emphasizes the absurdity of the human need to be right.
Reflection on this winter and how the strange weather affects fishing.
One second later, I had a bite. On the second bite I lifted my 24-inch ultra lite ice rod quickly and the fish was hooked. I reeled him up and, with a knowing wink at my partner in crime, sent the bibbit back down to the shallow bottom. Another second later, another fish was on. And on it went.
Under normal circumstances, I spend three to four mornings a week sitting on a pickle bucket, either inside or outside of a shanty, jigging happily to the perch or smelt below the surface of the hard water.
It was a long cold ride across in the dark this morning, bucking a northwest wind, spray crashing over the bow and whipping my face like frozen needles in the dark.
Later this month many of us will take the time to give thanks for the blessing in our lives. We will sit around a table, share our thoughts on family and friends, food and football teams, and express gratitude for all we have.
“Birds in the decoys,” I whisper, as three migrating greenwing teal swing in from the south.
“Ready? John asks.
“Ahyut,” I reply with a grin on my face.
I dream vividly in September. So clear are my dreams, that at times it seems that I cannot tell which are my reality and which are, in fact, just a figment of my imagination.
Against the far edge of a field, sitting like a Buddha on her haunches, a black bear munches on blackberries while her cubs roll in the second-cut hayfield. They bat at one another, mock fighting and wrestling as if their summer would never end.