Monthly Archives: October 2016

Two Ponds Saturday

South Bank View

South Bank View

My grandson, Maximus James, made a visit to the Engleville Tick Ranch last weekend. He can last only so long without a pilgrimage to the grandparents’ old homestead, the place where he spent his days as a preschooler. Where the school bus picked him up and dropped him off during kindergarten and first grade. Mam & Pop’s place served as daycare for him, and sister Elizabeth for a couple of years. Mam their governess, the Ark their second home.

Nowadays they live far away to the north. Well, okay, they live in the next town over, about fifteen minutes away, but still, a trip to Mam & Pop’s is like a mini-vacation.

So, after Saturday chores; going to the dump, bike-joring with the Chusky dog, mowing the lawns, we headed for Engleville Pond to do some Bullhead fishing. Max has caught a wide variety of fish, but not a bullhead, and that was his intended quarry today. He made up a mess he called dough-balls or stink-balls, wads of bread or dough with smelly attractants. Usually these are made with raw dough and the stuff chum is made of. In this case, Max grabbed a slice of deli turkey and some mayonnaise and made something of a club sandwich ball with English muffins for the bread.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted with the honking of geese as they drifted slowly away from us toward the far bank. The air was still, and the water like glass. The colors of fall leaped at us from all sides including below as the oranges and yellows reflected off the mirror surface.

Max had a tough time getting the soggy English muffin to stay on a hook. We grabbed a big hunk of muffin and dipped it into his turkey-club-jumble, and that stayed on long enough for a few casts. I fished for about five minutes before I was overcome with the need to grab the camera and get some snapshots of the beautiful Saturday afternoon. As luck would have it, while I was shooting across the pond a flock of geese flew in from the east. They cackled raucously as the 150-bird formation slowed, with fixed wings, descending towards the smooth surface of the pond. I took advantage of the opportunity to shoot some geese on the wing, so to speak.

We plied the waters of Engleville Pond a while with no luck, and decided to relocate to Bowmaker’s Pond. Back in the when, we called it Bowmaker Swamp. Because it was a swamp. The Department of Environmental Conservation dug out much of the swamp to open the water up a little, I guess, and maybe help with flood control or drainage. Now there’s quite a patch of open water, and the cattails have begun their slow march, spreading year by year. The milfoil and other aquafauna are also vigorously trying to reclaim the territory. Here, too, we found Canada Geese gathered. Resting and feeding as they pass through on their long migration to the Gulf of Mexico.

We had some fair fish action at Bowmaker’s, curiously catching five fish of five different species. First Max caught a Crappie, then a Bass. After a few more casts he caught the ubiquitous Sunfish (Bluegill). Finally I landed one, a nice pickerel about nineteen inches long. The only fish I didn’t get a snapshot of. Lastly, Max caught a little yellow perch.

It was a bit of a last hurrah for shirt-sleeve weather. By the time it neared sundown, a chill was in the air. The geese at Bowmaker’s lined up on the pond for some nice photos. At one point, you could hear their conversation starting. At first just a few honks, then bit-by-bit the rest of the flock joining in until there was a unanimous chatter. This meant they were readying for takeoff, and I got a few pictures of them running across the water, big wings flapping, honking the whole way. Finally they would take to the air, and with another minute of avid honking the birds ascended, circled, and faded off over the eastern horizon along with their noise.

Wherever we went today, the bright sun and golden colors of fall surrounded us. The sky held but a few ribbons of clouds, and the air was mild. Back at the Ranch we’d have a nice dinner, walk the dog around, and settle in for Saturday Night at Pop Pop’s. This means watching Ghost Hunters or Finding Bigfoot, or perhaps a Godzilla movie as we await ten o’clock and the ritual viewing of Svengoolie, and his own mix of monster movies.

There would be recliners and blankets, pretzels and green tea. Falling asleep in the chairs and moving to the bed (or couch) at 2 a.m. Sunday would leave us little time, though we managed another run with the mushing dog and at some point we made a walk around hunting squirrels. Max bagged one Pine Squirrel, which interested Sassy June the Chusky Dog greatly. Max kept the trophy tail, and we gave the carcass to Sassy, who quickly lost interest when she saw the thing wouldn’t run.

Mushing, Fishing, Hunting, Movie-watching, two ponds, trail hikes and chores, it was an action-packed weekend. I savored every moment with my grandson, my little dog, the honking geese and the colorful trees.

Sometimes I ask myself out loud:

“Am I dead? Is this Heaven?”

October Sunrise

October Sunrise

Take care and keep in touch.

 

Paz

 

That Time of Year

Season's End

Season’s End

The words occurred to me, probably spilled aloud out of my mouth. “Well, it’s that time of year again.”. Such a feeling of comfort came over me. There is so much in the phrase and the sentiment. Sentiment, in fact would be one of the attributes, nostalgia. A security of rhythm, a consistency of clockworks, a natural and recurring pace.

The phrase is used throughout the year and yet at each point on the line takes on new variations on a theme. There’s something about coming around to the same place. Something about seeing things, simple things, in that “again” sense of annual events, reunions.

It’s That Time of Year” , again

Here at the Engleville Tick Ranch, the slow roll of the earth begins to be discerned. Sunrise later each morning, sunset earlier each evening. While grasses and pines, asters and chicory seem undeterred, deciduous plants are making their decisions. Time to shut down, shed their summer raiment, begin that long slow ride to the next solstice.

The slightest and subtlest things quickly catch our attention, quicken our pulses with the newness. Cool air on your face, heavy morning dews, the smell of the dried leaves. There’s a thrilling exhilaration to this time of season, a yin and yan to the coming days. Like a plunge into the lake for a swim, there is eagerness to be in the water and simultaneous excited apprehension about the shock of diving into the cold liquid world.

And so it’s that time of year. Time to put away the little enamel-top table in the cabana, having served us since sugaring season (Max’s Sugar Shack) in March. It’s seen silent summer mornings with me, a dog and a cup of coffee as we watch the lazy June sun climb up out of the sumacs. Afternoons babysitting, keeping an eye on naked toddlers as they play in and out of the kiddie pool. Evenings in July, as the skies darken and stars come out, looking for satellites, a meteor.

Time to wrap the little blueberry patch with its chicken wire winter fence. Defending against bunnies and deer who would eat the dormant shoots right to the ground when February rolls around, and food is scarce.

Time to open the Holiday Closet, an entire walk-in devoted to seasonal and holiday decorations. We’ll put away the wreaths adorned with summery flowers, bring out the wreaths with harvest colors and imitation fruits. Break out the ceramic pumpkin-shaped (and colored) serving platter, the tiny lighted ceramic houses showing tiny ceramic people digging out their own tiny ceramic decorations from their tiny Holiday Closet.

Time to spend a day cursing at the aluminum storm windows. Why won’t the top one stay all the way up? Time to jam screws into the gap between the sash and the window frames of the 110-year-old casement windows. Their round tops and rippled Albany glass having seen this time of year many more times than I have. Replace them all with vinyl? Are you crazy? Spend five minutes with one of these finely crafted, ornate antique constructions, and you’ll love drafts and blankets as much as we do.

Time to close the vent window in the basement. To wrap the young tulip tree and hope it survives to grow a third year. Time to chop down the 3-year-old Rose of Sharon that didn’t make it through last year’s harsh winter. Deep cold and no snow cover. A bad combination for so many things that have no where else to go, no means of protection against the deep freeze.

It’s that time of year to Ooh! and Aah! on the average of every thirty seconds while trying to drive somewhere, walk with the dog, mow the grass. To stop to take the photo even though it will make me late. To try desperately to capture the mood, the light, the temperature, the cool air, the smell of leaves and the wonder of it all in a photograph. To take pictures of the same tree donning the same autumn dress—going on thirty years or so.

After the first of October, we’ll get out all the Halloween decorations, the plastic jack-o-lanterns, the 7-foot-tall cartoonish Frankenstein who greets the school bus daily. The ceramic witch and black cat candy dishes. After the first of November we’ll haul out Thanksgiving. Paper turkeys with smiles on their faces. Paper pilgrims, paper natives, gathering for the feast. And then we roll on into the traditional American Christmas. That’s a story unto itself.

It’s the time of year for closing up, shuttering, wrapping, boxing, sealing and putting away. There’s no sense of loss here. It’s a bit like wrapping gifts for ourselves. Away goes the duffel full of camping gear. Won’t need that ’til summer. Away go the kiddie pool and the bicycles. Planters and pots are stacked in the back room. The barbecue parks in the cabana, holding forth the slightest hope that it may see some use on a spontaneous Sunday in January.

Like Christmas Clubs and piggy banks, 401k’s and Certificates of Deposit, we put these things away for our future selves. Until it’s time to revisit these familiar places, to open the gifts whose contents we know well. Soon we’ll open the winter gifts; bring out the down ticks for the beds, the draft stoppers for the doors, the electric heater for the bathroom.

And now? This weekend? Columbus Day? I’ll spend a weekend with good intentions to fix that insulation by the bulkhead door. I’ll ponder about when the last mowing will be. I’ll consider getting on the roof to make sure the drain is cleared. I’ll fret a little over how to take down the falling outhouse before the snow does it for me. In between I’ll walk the dog. Maybe take an extra spin around town in the morning, after the dump run, shoot a few photos.

But mostly, I’ll look up to a blue and gold October sky, listen to Canada Geese saying goodbye again, for the 57th year. I’ll marvel and stare at colored leaves that have marveled me and made me stare for as long as I can remember. I’ll breathe the cool, misty morning air, and smell the molds growing in the thatch, a dichotomy with the smell of dried leaves. I’ll be so distracted by the vibrant beauty and the newness of the season’s attributes that I’ll wonder on Tuesday where the time went. Make a plan to get all those chores done next weekend.

‘Cause, you know,

It’s that time of year again.

Take care and keep in touch,

 

Paz