Friday, July 29, 2011

Back home, back into the floorboards

The afore-mentioned streaks being shattered: television flickering now, showing a movie. I've committed the sin of driving a motor vehicle and now I'm deep into some pale ale. Breaking all those streaks of abstinence. I suppose all good streaks are broken. For later pursuit.

"Is there anything the church can do for you?" says the movie. It's actually the kid from a movie I watched a while back who killed a bunch of people "taking lives." Now he's here in the living room.

And on this beer: it was the last twelve pack of Sierra Nevada in the store. The guy was pitching it to someone else when I walked up in a sleeveless shirt, Bug School basketball shorts and sandals. In my mind I said "if you take that fucking beer I'm going to run you off the road on the way outta here." Into the air I said "I'm going to take that beer if you're cool with that." Oh yeah man take it. No more words necessary.

Can't stand the word surreal because I've never really looked it up and it feels over-used. But my mind keeps swerving toward it when I think about the past month. Things came out of nowhere and we made quick decisons. Traced around the map. We'll look back and say "remember in July 2011 when you went out to North Dakota?" What a good chapter. What good things. Instead of waiting and stewing at home bitter bitter stewing I went out. Longest I've ever been away from home. Long long time.

Now I'm home and it's taking a bit to get back in. "Lost a man down the well" says the movie. "What man?" I don't know.

But I do love home. I watched a hummingbird moth taking nectar from our bee balm. Long, curved probiscus that it unfurled time again to insert into each flower segment. I put my face down close to it and it abided. It had a tail like a crayfish and it looked heavy. Looked into every part of that flower.

And then I rid my grapevines of a fungus that came along due to the wet weather and the dense canopy that came about in my long absence. I cut every diseased leave from those vines (THE DEVIL IS IN YOUR HANDS AND I WILL SUCK IT OUT says the movie GET OUT OF HERE GHOST GET OUT OF HERE GHOST). WTF is this movie up to? Some crazy shit man. THE ARMY OF MY BOOTS WILL KILL YOU IN THE SEA. What the hell? Some kind of rally in a corn drying bin. All dark. Arthritis I think. I did take every diseased leaf from that vine and I mean to burn those. No innoculate for next year. And the thinned out canopy does two things (1) promotes dryness which is a detriment to the fungus; (2) allows light to hit the spores, which murders them. I figure I cursed myself by bragging about my grapevines. More likely though it just got overgrown in my absence.

My kids need me and I need them. We lost each other a bit there and we need to engage in a good and fair setting. I see that setting as being the Whitewater River and the Root River.

My wife met me at a train station and she was crying a bit and holding a bouquet not of dogwood flowers but of bee balm, bergamot, black-eyed susans and purple coneflowers. Each one beheaded in our backyard. I'll remember that for a while.

And so we come to the streams: the water that dissects this place. It's very special. Not everywhere do you find groundwater coming out of walls, or bubbling up in streambeds. Six foot tall grass leaning over deep cut banks. You just don't see that shit all over the place. It's here though. What I can do to worship isn't entirely clear but I keep trying. And anticipation is a big part of it. Looks like some church time is coming my way and that's making me loosen up a bit. Something good is coming along.

And finally, a passage from Ted Leeson - from a book read over hiatus:

So I've always found it best to come in on a tangent, asymptotically, crabwise. And it helps to bring good optics. The occupation of discovering a river begins with preoccupation, some focal point that deflects awareness away from the subject and so sensitizes the periphery. For me, fly fishing offers just this type of lens. For others, it may be dabbing at a tray of watercolors, taking an aimless walk, or playing the cello. Anything will do as long as it suspends the mind's propensity to replicate itself in whatever it dwells on, and leaves clear the edges of acumen to be impinged upon, sidelong and incidentally, by what is really there. Only then do you begin to know what to look for and get some idea of how it may be found.

Home again home again.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Here are the streaks that were recorded over the past 24 days:

No physical contact or even visual encounter with a computer: 12 days
No viewing of a lit pixel on a TV screen: 15 days (still going)
No consumption of a single milliliter of alcohol: 12 days
No fish touched: 13 days (ended last night)

In sum, the shutdown campaign was an interesting blur of emotions and experiences. The most intriguing was the open-endedness of it all: two days, two weeks, six months? Creepy feeling. We wandered all over the map; sometimes together, sometimes just me. Like the Indiana Jones plane flying from point to point. Some days found me drinking heavily on a beach. Other days busting my ass helping family members with various projects. And those folks – family and friends – were understanding and helpful: hosting us or me and offering appropriate slander of rookie politicians.

Regarding the fishing, I toted a 7 wt and a bare-bones selection of warmwater flies with me at all times. Just in case. Turns out over the ~23 day span there were only two fishing chapters of note:

(1) James and I hunted around my dad’s local lake for pike and bass. This was moderately successful. Poppers produced some decent LMB. Even caught a couple small pike on poppers which was cool. Key there was fishing at a creek mouth, casting into the cooler water. This lake is frustrating in that it looks so good re habitat for LMB, but every time a guy tries he only bumps a handful. Nice paddling though, and good to have an excited son along.
(2) For years and maybe even a solid decade we fished a certain lake up north with my dad: probing the thick pads with Moss Bosses. Four people in a 14 foot aluminum row boat, whizzing lures into the jungle. It would qualify as the water of our youth. We revisited this lake on July 9th, 2011. Fished from ~700-1300. Poppers managed approx four LMB of moderate size. Leech patterns took three northern pike, one of which we ate half of for dinner. Dad got the Moss Boss going again, and in dramatic fashion racked up the LMB in the last hour of fishing: maybe 4-5 fish of moderate size. Overall, the fishing wasn’t as good as it used to be and it never was (no typos in that sentence; it’s like a mobius band or an Escher painting). Really though, we didn’t catch any big LMB. Maybe in deeper water but we were too lazy to probe.

Regarding other adventure, I visited a new landscape with my brother and his sons: NW corner of North Dakota. I think a person becomes subconsciously aware of persistent surroundings – trees for example. You get used to seeing things both in your direct vision and your periphery. The land out there is not flat; it is indeed gently rolling. Relatively poor soil. Mostly wheat, hay and oil occupations. And not many trees. That gives it a sense of openness and vastness. Add to that the fact that the people live miles apart and they place just feels big and wide. Big Sky, etc. Pretty fascinating to tour really. We saw two moose. Quite a number of sharptails, pheasants, ducks. Some deer. Looked in on some of the old homesteads. Old wood and history in them. Took the Amtrak back home and that provided an appropriate viewing of the transition heading east. Very interesting and a much better education than one might acquire via air travel.

So ball that all up into an amalgamation of good people and places. Top it with an extended period of time with my brother and his kids (don’t get that opportunity very often). Cut it sour a bit with the fact that I was away from home for many weeks. And that’s the shut down. That’s a brief capsule re how it rolled out for me.

Northern MN Lake I

Northern MN Lake II

North Dakota