Friday, September 27, 2013

Dude, Check This Out: Acid King

Sometimes when fall rolls around you feel different about things. You give up your summer shandy for a dark, dark ale, for example. Or you put away the light, bright summer clothes and get out the earthtone sweaters and flannels. And maybe, responding to that slight feeling of melancholy you just can't shake, you switch from listening to that annoying popular music and settle in with some long, long tracks of stoner metal.

Or is that just me?

Well, if it's you, too, I've got just what you're looking for.

When we lived in Chicago we used to go to Busse (buss-ee) Woods, a Forest Preserve not too far from our apartment. When the boys were toddlers we had expensive bikes and one of those cool bike trailers for kids, and we'd go on long rides through the park. We loved it.

The bikes got stolen. But when the boys were older I used to take them to Busse Woods to fish in the many ponds, which were teeming with stunted bluegill. And yes, I caught them on a fly rod. We had some fun.

Not too long ago I discovered this album. Busse Woods?! Could it be the same Busse Woods?

Yep, it could. This is Lori S. Just Lori S. When she was a teenager she and her friends used to hang out at Busse Woods with their trunks open selling drugs. Until the cops put a stop to it. Or so the story goes. I'm pretty sure there were some other teens carrying on the tradition when we were there.

When Lori grew up she moved to San Francisco and founded the band Acid King in 1993. Hey, beetles!

She is lead guitarist, lyricist, and vocalist for the band. Busse Woods is their second studio album, released in 1999. Interestingly, that's the year we moved to Chicago and discovered Busse Woods for ourselves.

The album was reissued in 2004 with slightly different artwork.

It featured two new songs, both covers: "Motorhead" by Hawkwind, and "Not Fragile" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, my all-time most-disliked band. See "annoying popular music" above. But I like Lori's version. The original album had another unlikely cover: "39 Lashes" by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice from Jesus Christ Superstar.

So go to the woods with Lori. It's not going to be what you expect. But it could be just what you need.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Real Secret of Life

Four times this summer, coming and going, I traversed I-25 along the front range of the Colorado Rockies. Each time it was socked in with clouds and rain. The last time, on September 2nd, I could see the contours of Long's Peak, but that was it. That rain was just a portent of what was soon to come.

Below are photos of the Big Thompson River and Highway 34 taken by the Air National Guard during the flood. I've driven that road up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. These images are representative of the incredible amount of damage across a great swath of Colorado. You don't think it could happen in a hundred years, and then the "Hundred Year Flood" happens to hit.

Each time I passed along the front range this summer I thought about the Mysteries Internal blog, and Erin Block. Her canyon is up there somewhere. When the floods came I was concerned for her and Banjo and Jay and her neighbors. Thanks to Erin's writing, I feel like I know them.

I was happy to receive a comment from Erin today on my inconsequential post facetiously titled "The Secret of Life." I replied, asking how she and her canyon had fared. She responded with this:

We got hit pretty hard. Main road out is washed out and just got gas turned back on today after two weeks. But all in all we really lucked out and property/cabin is ok!

That is good news. My thoughts and prayers go out to Erin and her neighbors and all who are living through this disaster.

Oh, and I think I've learned a little something about the real secret of life from Erin, from the fact that she commented on a humorous post, from her previous writings about her mid-western farm upbringing, and from the above reply: be strong, keep a sense of humor--and count your blessings.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Secret of Life

I've marked the arrival of fall with the arrival of a bad cold and sore throat. Tried to push through it, now hunkering down. I'm hoping to be well enough by the middle of next week to hit the road for a couple days of steelheading. More on that soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, it's a good time for some miscellaneous images, each one worth hours of contemplation. Seriously. I've done it. It helps if you feel like crap. But know this: the secret of life is hidden in this combination of images and will be revealed to those with eyes to see. Good luck, and stay well.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Trout Lake Report: The Last Fish of Summer

It's hard to believe, but the last day of summer is here. So many memories. They roll around in your head as you drive up to the lake for the last trip of summer.

Showers are climbing over the mountains and roaming down the valleys as you enter the wildlife area and pass the first lake in the chain.

You drive out of the rain by the time you reach Trout Lake. But today you keep going.

You're heading to Brookie Lake. When you arrive, you get out and take a look around. The weeds are thick around the launch so you find a spot on the bank where you can cast to an open area.

You're casting a muddler. It takes awhile, but you finally strip the fly through a corridor between the weeds and a fish leaps straight up out of the water trying to get it. It misses and hooks itself on the dorsal. It's a beautiful, strong fish.

You want to hook one clean, and you give it a good effort. You try a little woolly bugger and a bead head nymph, but you don't catch another fish in the limited space you can reach from the bank. You determine to come back in the fall, brave the weeds with the float tube, and increase your space--and your chances.

You drive back to Trout Lake and go in at the north end.

The water is stained from the rain, something you haven't seen here before. You wonder if that will affect the fishing. You cross over to the reed bed and the inlet. You've tied a muddler back on, and you get a swirl, so you decide the fish can at least see a muddler.

At the inlet you cast to the entrance and get a quick hit. But you miss the hookup. You go back, wait, then begin a strip. Farther out than the first hit a fish comes up strong and is hooked. You think it might be the same fish. It seems pissed enough.

You make a few more exploratory casts around the entrance, then kick in closer and send a cast way inside. The water can't be two feet deep in there, but you get a big hit and pull a second fish out of the inlet.

There's another guy in a float tube here. You look up, and instead of giving you a wide berth he's bearing down on you, fishing the same areas you just covered. Whatever. He looks around and sees you, so you wait a minute to see if he'll change his course. But he just keeps coming. Too close.

You kick out and cross back over to the other side. This was wonderful water in the spring and early summer when the lake was five feet higher, and it's good to explore now. Even when a cast comes up empty you're remembering many other fish caught along here on days when the summer was young.

Then, in one of the hot spots of the glory days, seemingly barren now, a chase, an ambush, and another fish.

You get up to the far north end where you began and work the corner you skipped before.

One more fish comes to the muddler. The last fish of summer.

You look over, and that other guy seems to be crossing back over here, too.

OK. You're done. You climb back up to the truck, load up, and hit the road.

You're dodging the odd deer here and there when you round a curve and have to hit the brakes. A big flock of turkeys in no hurry to get out of the way. You admire their ungainly wildness, then push them off the road and drive on.

You feel melancholy. There are still a few hours to the actual time of the fall equinox at 1:44 PDT tomorrow. But for you, summer is already over.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Grandmother" by Sherman Alexie

old crow of a woman in bonnet, sifting through the dump
salvaging those parts of the world
neither useless nor useful

she would be hours in the sweatlodge
come out naked and brilliant in the sun
steam rising off her body in winter
like slow explosion of horses

she braided my sister's hair with hands that smelled of deep
roots buried in the earth
she told me old stories

how time never mattered
when she died
they gave me her clock

"Grandmother" by Sherman Alexie, from The Business of Fancy Dancing© Hanging Loose Press, 1992.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trout Lake Report: Bonus

You have just enough time to drop in to see how things are. Storms have been rolling through and the temperature has dropped. The road is wet as you drive in.

But the rains won't bring up the lake like they have the river. It's a longer and longer walk to the water.

You launch at the channel and try the upper end of the south lake.

There are fish tucked in along the shoreline, but only the young and foolish seem inclined to take a chance on a big muddler.

Then a nice fish rises with a splash up in the weeds behind you. Your instincts tell you it's the big Brown you've been looking for.

But you'll never know.

You drop the muddler up tight to the bank, wait a moment or two, and there's a rise like a sinkhole right under the fly. Maybe you tighten a fraction of a second sooner than you would have if you weren't thinking about big Browns. But you feel the hook slide off the jaw and you come up empty. You come back half an hour later but there are no second chances this time.


You find another young and foolish fish.

And then, on the kick back to the truck, you find a fish not so young and foolish. You're satisfied with that. It feels like a bonus after blowing your chance at what you're convinced by now was a very big Brown.