Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brookie Lake Report: April Goes Out On A High Note

You only have a couple of hours, but you go to Brookie Lake. You're glad you did. A prescribed burn adds fragrance and effect, the swallows are thick and lovely, and the brookies are there and bright and willing to take anything from a big muddler to a little mayfly. And so April goes out on a high note.

One of the Best Ever Signs of Spring

The first hot day in Indiana, and Iris has her first ice cream cone.

Happy Birthday, Annie Dillard

She is one of the women I love, and who has helped me have a clue how to love life, this bright spinning miracle of a universe, and living in it.

From The Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of Annie Dillard (books by this author), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1945). She began writing poetry in high school, and then studied English in college. After writing a master's thesis on Thoreau's Walden, she moved to a cabin in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. There she wrote poetry and also kept a daily journal of her observations of nature and her thoughts about God and religion. She wrote in old notebooks and on four-by-six-inch index cards, and when she was ready to transform the journal into a book, she had 1,100 entries. "By the time I finished the book, I weighed about 98 pounds," Dillard said. "I never went to bed. I would write all night until the sun was almost coming up."
The result, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, was published in 1974, and Annie Dillard received her first literary award the following year: the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. She was only 29 years old. She has published collections of essays and of poetry, as well as an autobiography. Her most recent work is a novel, The Maytrees (2007). When it comes to writing, she says: "Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark."

More than a mere quote, this is one of the many moments in Pilgrim At Tinker Creek that knocked me breathless with a powerful glance:

“When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw “the tree with the lights in it.” It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek and thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells un-flamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.”
                                                                                                         ― Annie DillardPilgrim at Tinker Creek

For an excellent review of Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, posted today, go to Blue Planet Green Living.

Start with Pilgrim, and then you may want to go on to other things she's written. But if you "love nature," you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Dude, Check This Out: Led Zeppelin I

The birth of Zeppelin. Released January 12, 1969 in the States, in March in the UK. Number 29 on Rolling Stone's list of the Greatest Albums of all time. Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.

For me, a watershed event. Nineteen years old, home from college on Spring Break. Restless, angry, looking for something, always looking. Picked it up on a whim at the local drugstore. Listened to it on my parents' big console stereo late at night in the living room, all alone, lying on the carpet with my head under the cabinet so I could hear it loud without turning it up.

Blew my little mind. What I had been waiting for my whole life. Set all my teen angst to crashing guitars and a driving beat. I crashed, burned, and rose up from the ashes. And was never the same.

Here they are in January of 1975 at the Chicago Arena. I was there, man.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trout Lake Report: Opening Day 2013

The day finally comes, and, after taking care of a few things you need to do, you finally break away and make your way to the lake. There's an RV village in the south campground, but fewer campers up along the north lake. You're delighted to find one of your favorite access points--right on the channel--unoccupied. There are winter-downed willows blocking the access, but that's not going to stop you.

You push your way through and kick out into the channel, and there to the left of you is Trout Lake...

And there to the right of you is Trout Lake.

It's Trout Lake everywhere, in all its glory, and you hardly know where to start. But you have a pretty good idea. You've already decided to fish a #10 muddler to see whether you can find a fish willing to take it on opening day. So you head to a stretch of shoreline that you hold in high regard and get to work.

It's like coming home. The shoreline reels slowly by and you get into a deeply satisfying rhythm as you lay the fly as close to the ragged edge of the lake as you can and strip it back. Almost right away you get a splashy hit but no take. You think this just might work. You keep going, pushing the limit to get the fly into tight spaces.

You work all the way down and get more hits and follows. So you turn around and tow the fly behind you while you kick back up to where you started. You want to work in the opposite direction around the bend into John's Cove.

Just as you start around the bend, a fish swirls on the fly. You instantly stop stripping, wait a beat, then start again. You've tried this before, but this time it works. The fish comes back and takes it solidly. It's a fish worthy of the honor of being the first fish of 2013 at Trout Lake.

You go back to the shoreline with the muddler and within two casts get a second solid take. It's a sweet little Brown. You're pleased.

The experiment has been successful. You can catch fish in early spring by working the shorelines with a muddler. You wonder if you should try some other method now, but you're having too much fun. You keep throwing the muddler and work down the channel toward the north lake.

You get a good swirl right under a snag, and then get hung up trying to lay the fly even farther back under it. After kicking in to retrieve the fly you go on.

But on the way back you cast to the snag again and get a hookup. Just a little fish, but as it runs and jumps another fish jumps next to it. It's bigger than yours, and it's a Brown. You wonder. You've had big Browns come out of nowhere and take a small trout, fly and all, right off your line. This one didn't look big enough to do that, but a Brown is a Brown. At the least, this experience gets you eagerly anticipating future Brown interactions.

You rest the snag and go back to it a third time, this time with an image of that airborne Brown in your mind. But nothing doing.

You're having a wonderful time. Most of the trollers are in camp now having supper. A couple of boats will come out again before dark, but in the meantime you're alone. You kick back into the south lake and lazily fish your way along. There are some risers, and you think about changing flies. But why? You stay with the muddler, and you get more follows and swirls.

The swallows are thick overhead as dusk arrives.

And another sweet little Brown comes after the muddler.

You kick slowly in, savoring the moment, and savoring everything you've experienced. One day down, and many, many more to come.