Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BWCA 2016 Days Six and Seven
September 1-2

7:55 AM largie.  Clean looking fish.

Dad and I switched up for the last couple days: I went solo and he manned the three-seater.  It was cool to see it from afar.  Some gunners in that pic right there; long arcing paths of heavy lures.

Tried poppers of various sizes and makes.  Some from store; some from shop in basement.  This one is a nice subtle commercial make; sits pretty low and makes muted gurgles (as compared to monster rip pops).  So many fish though it would have been difficult to conclude that one popper make/size/color was better than any other.

Many fish in this range of 16-17".  I put this one at 17 based on the just-visible mark of 18 on the paddle.  SMB: hard pulling fish.  They don't run but they seem to have strength disproportionate to body mass.

Brought a different mug this year and one variation turned out to be big: that nice hook handle.  I could hang from thwart, or from belt.  Example of seemingly minor change that brings great satisfaction.  What else you want from a dashboard is not known: fly rods at hand, paddle, and coffee.  Especially good when the forward gallery is two kids bombing fish.

Primitive container crafted by the boys.

Last mission was to fill it with fish guts and take offsite.

This was the afternoon outing trying to find small bass to eat.  Diffuclt task.  Only way to do it was go way up in a channel and fish shallow water and woody debris; that produced some fish 12-13 inches.  This one here was released.  Those 12er SMB are pretty good fare if you can't find walleyes or pike.

Fish on poppers became routine and so the effort here was focused on composing an image with it all: sunset, loon family, bow of canoe, calm water and bent rod.

Boys in camp.

Last day we fished just the morning.  This ~17 came on second cast.

In the mornings go to where the sun is not yet striking the water.

Camp viewed from the bay.

No waders this year.  Most gear comparmentalized in waterproof sacks.  Always trying to make this system better.  It's pretty good though.

The four remaining on last day (we had three guys head out on two different days preceding).  Here posting picture of a good guy who liked paddling.

In the long BWCA book this was a top chapter.  Three generations.  Kids just lighting up fish every day.  Freedom to be in the dark or by the fire or in the water.  Focus on fishing and then each midday back at camp an unwinding that had permission to go in whatever direction for those guys.  Thanks to the BWCA Director and to all the parents who made it happen; not long and we'll be at it again.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Brown and the Farrier

from Blood Meridian by C. McCarthy
Noon he was red-eyed and reeking before the alcalde’s door demanding the release of his companions. The alcalde vacated out the back of the premises and shortly there arrived an American corporal and two soldiers who warned him away. An hour later he was at the farriery. Standing warily in the doorway peering into the gloom until he could make out the shape of things within.

The farrier was at his bench and Brown entered and laid before him a polished mahogany case with a brass nameplatebradded to the lid. He unsnapped the catches and opened the case and raised from their recess within a pair of shotgun barrels and he took up the stock with the other hand. He hooked the barrels into the patent breech and stood the shotgun on the bench and pushed the fitted pin home to secure the forearm. He cocked the hammers with his thumbs and let them fall again. The shotgun was English made and had damascus barrels and engraved locks and the stock was burl mahogany. He looked up. The farrier was watching him.

You work on guns? said Brown.

I do some.

I need these barrels cut down.

The man took the gun and held it in his hands. There was a raised center rib between the barrels and inlaid in gold the maker’s name, London. There were two platinum bands in the patent breech and the locks and the hammers were chased with scrollwork cut deeply in the steel and there were partridges engraved at either end of the maker’s name there. The purple barrels were welded up from triple skelps and the hammered iron and steel bore a watered figure like the markings of some alien and antique serpent, rare and beautiful and lethal, and the wood was figured with a deep red feather grain at the butt and held a small springloaded silver capbox in the toe.

The farrier turned the gun in his hands and looked at Brown. He looked down at the case. It was lined with green baize and there were little fitted compartments that held a wadcutter, a pewter powderflask, cleaning jags, a patent pewter capper.

You need what? he said.

Cut the barrels down. Long about in here. He held a finger across the piece.

I cant do that.

Brown looked at him. You cant do it?

No sir. He looked around the shop. Well, he said. I’d of thought any damn fool could saw the barrels off a shotgun.

There’s something wrong with you. Why would anybody want to cut the barrels off a gun like this?

What did you say? said Brown.

The man tendered the gun nervously. I just meant that I dont see why anybody would want to ruin a good gun like this here. What would you take for it?

It aint for sale. You think there’s something wrong with me?

No I dont. I didnt mean it that way.

Are you goin to cut them barrels down or aint ye?

I cant do that.

Cant or wont?

You pick the one that best suits you.

Brown took the shotgun and laid it on the bench. What would you have to have to do it? he said.

I aint doin it.

If a man wanted it done what would be a fair price?

I dont know. A dollar.

Brown reached into his pocket and came up with a handful of coins. He laid a two and a half dollar gold piece on the bench. Now, he said. I’m payin you two and a half dollars.

The farrier looked at the coin nervously. I dont need your money, he said. You cant pay me to butcher that there gun.

You done been paid.

No I aint.

Yonder it lays. Now you can either get to sawin or you can default. In the case of which I aim to take it out of your ass.

The farrier didnt take his eyes off Brown. He began to back away from the bench and then he turned and ran.

When the sergeant of the guard arrived Brown had the shotgun chucked up in the benchvise and was working at the barrels with a hacksaw. The sergeant walked around to where he could see his face. What do you want, said Brown.

This man says you threatened his life.

What man?

This man. The sergeant nodded toward the door of the shed.

Brown continued to saw. You call that a man? he said.

I never give him no leave to come in here and use my tools neither, said the farrier.

How about it? said the sergeant.

How about what?

How do you answer to this man’s charges?

He’s a liar.

You never threatened him?

That’s right.

The hell he never.

I dont threaten people. I told him I’d whip his ass and that’s as good as notarized.

You dont call that a threat?

Brown looked up. It was not no threat. It was a promise. He bent to the work again and another few passes with the saw and the barrels dropped to the dirt. He laid down the saw and backed off the jaws of the vise and lifted out the shotgun and unpinned the barrels from the stock and fitted the pieces into the case and shut the lid and latched it.

What was the argument about? said the sergeant.

Wasnt no argument that I know of.

You better ask him where he got that gun he’s just ruined. He’s stole that somewheres, you can wager on it.

Where’d you get the shotgun? said the sergeant.

Brown bent down and picked up the severed barrels. They were about eighteen inches long and he had them by the small end. He came around the bench and walked past the sergeant. He put the guncase under his arm. At the door he turned. The farrier was nowhere in sight. He looked at the sergeant.

I believe that man has done withdrawed his charges, he said. Like as not he was drunk.