Friday, February 13, 2015

A cabin fever induced pattern

Sometimes I see a pattern developing while it's still in very early stages. This week may have been one of those times. On Monday I went out to take some photos. I noticed that the south and east facing slopes were pretty much snow free, while the north and west facing slopes were largely snow covered, much like the St. Croix River, which has snow cover on its ice cover and looks like this. That's about what I expected.

snow covered, ice covered St. Croix River
snow covered, ice covered St. Croix River
Photo by J. Harrington

On the way to the river access, I had to cross a small stream. It was open and flowing and looked cheerful. Seeing the water riffling along made me smile. I felt happy. I've always been drawn to water moving like this.

open, flowing tributary
open, flowing tributary
Photo by J. Harrington

A day or so ago, which was also a day or so after seeing the flowing water, I dug out one of my fly boxes, the one full of flies I usually cast for smallmouth bass, a number of which live in the St. Croix River. I opened the box and took out a few flies, put them on my desk where I could see and touch them, and smiled. The look and feel of those flies made think of good times past and those still to come, I hope. That made me happy.

Tucked in almost out of sight among some wooly worm type flies were a couple of streamers I didn't recognize. After a day or so of subconscious simmering, I remembered that they're called Spruce Flies and are often fished for steelhead. I was then at a loss as to why I had them and had them stored in with smallmouth bass flies. Then it occurred to me that, once or twice upon a time, I had planned a trip fly fishing for steelhead in one of the North Shore streams that feeds Lake Superior. I never made that trip and never added to my two flies for steelhead. Rather than leave them in the back of a drawer, I had put them in the smallmouth box "just in case." Remembering, without outside assistance, the name of the Spruce Flies made me happy.

open, flowing St. Croix River
open, flowing St. Croix River
Photo by J. Harrington

The pattern I see is that I'm putting more and more focus on open water and fly fishing. That's also making me suspicious about just how much cabin fever (open water fever?) I have. Ice fishing as a stop gap presents a couple of problems. First, most ice houses aren't big enough to accommodate a fly rod. Second, a bass bug or streamer cast at this time of year just bounces. As a Valentine to myself, I think I'll spend part of tomorrow cleaning a fly line, reel and rod or two. Spring's just around a couple of corners, unless you live where I used to, along the New England coast. Their pattern may mean blizzards come June. Salt water's usually open though.

Encounter in the Local Pub

By Eleanor Wilner 

Unlike Francis Bacon, we no longer believe in the little patterns we make of the chaos of history.
               —Overheard remark
 

As he looked up from his glass, its quickly melting ice,
into the bisected glowing demonic eyes of the goat,
he sensed that something fundamental had shifted,

or was done. As if, after a life of enchantment, he
had awakened, like Bottom, wearing the ears of an ass,
and the only light was a lanthorn, an ersatz moon.

It was not that the calendar hadn’t numbered the days
with an orbital accuracy, its calculations
exact, but like a man who wants to hang a hammock

in his yard, to let its bright net cradle him, but only
has one tree, so hewild and aware of itknew
he had lost the order he required, and with it, rest

his thoughts only a sagging bundle of loose ends,
and the heart, a naked animal in search of a pelt,
that once fell for every Large Meaning it could

wrap itself in, as organs are packed in ice for transit
from one ending to the next, an afterlife of partsand
the whole? Exorbitant claimnot less than all,

and oddly spelled; its ear rhyme is its opposite,
the great hole in the heart of things. The goat,
he noticed, had a rank smell, feral. Unnerved,

he looks away, watches the last of his ice
as it melts, the way some godlike eye might see
the mighty glaciers in a slow dissolve back into sea.

He notes how incommensurate the simile, a last
attempt to dignify his shaking gaze, and reaches
for the bill; he’s damned if the goat will pay. 


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