Tag Archives: Fishing

Island Time

Fathers & Sons

Fathers & Sons

For the second week of June, we planned a Father & Son camping trip to one of my favorite places on the planet, pristine Forked Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. My son Ryan was the catalyst, and he put together a trip with my brother-in-law Chris and Chris’s son Jon. Jon and Ryan are cousins about the same age, and though we sometimes lived a couple of states apart, they spent plenty of time together all of their lives.

We reserved site 51 on the island in the middle of the lake, and upon arrival we found that the folks that reserved site 52 , (the other half of the island) had cancelled! We had the whole island to ourselves! It was our good fortune as we would discover, as site 52 is on the leeward side, and we had rain storms blowing by throughout our stay.  Now and then I’d go to the west side, (site 51) and look up the lake and into the Adirondack High Peaks, and return to camp announcing “The island weather forecast for the next few hours”.

Rains came and went throughout our three night stay. We’d watch them as they blew up the lake, channeled by hills surrounding the water, the wind picking up speed, unencumbered, as it raced across the surface. Small whitecaps were seen to pick up, and rains would sweep gently in at an angle. Sometimes there’d be a brief but steady cloudburst, passing within minutes. At other times a dense mist would fill the air and float over the island, the boats, the tents and the campers. The rest of the campground was virtually empty, and when the mists would surround our little island it was as if we were all alone in the universe. Tranquility at its best.

Treated like a king, I was told I would need to do no cooking, as the young Epicureans had planned all the meals. There were eggs with hash browns for breakfast Tuesday, and pancakes on Wednesday. For dinner there was a fine stew, cooked all afternoon in the cast iron Dutch oven over the open fire, and complemented with fresh-baked biscuits! Wednesday night’s dinner consisted of tossed salad and fish tacos, made fresh from the day’s catch! Chris even remembered the S’mores!

Fishing was off a bit. Of course we were two weeks early for bass season (opens 3rd Saturday in June here), and the only other fish we saw were Crappies. (In case you don’t know, I’m not being crass, “Crappie” is actually the name of the species. In sophisticated company it’s pronounced “croppy”). Chris and Jon (from Florida and Massachusetts, respectively) ponied up for their out-of-state 3-day fishing licenses, but alas I don’t think they ever landed a fish. Not to worry, as father and son team Ryan and I landed about 2 pounds of fish. Plenty enough for fish tacos for four. Chef Ryan cut the fish into smaller pieces, and they were then batter-dipped and deep-fried in the cast iron over the fire. Somehow, I missed the photos of that, but I can still remember the incredible flavor!

Days were filled with motoring and paddling about, fishing, stoking the fire. By the third day of intermittent rains, we were making the hand gestures from The Karate Kid and saying “jacket on- jacket off”. Still, we fished through some rain and sat through some rain. Ryan says “It makes us bad-ass.” Nights were pretty cool, getting into the lower 40’s by Wednesday night.

We heard this weird sound during the day. Clearly a bird, but with an odd call. It sounded like an alarm clock going off, or someone imitating an alarm clock. Usually five short tones, the same flat note, like “ehn-ehn-ehn-ehn-ehn” if you can pronounce that. Sometimes this would be truncated to three notes, but almost always five. I started calling it “the alarm clock bird” and kept a keen eye out for it. (An avid birdwatcher and member of the Audubon Society, I have some bird-seeking chops, but could never lay eyes on this one.) I learned after the trip, reading an article in Adirondack Life Magazine that it was a Saw-whet Owl. So named because the sound resembled a whet stone applied to sharpening a saw. The article said in today’s nomenclature it might be called a backup-alarm bird!

Of course, much of camping, which is kinda work and kinda vacation, involves sitting around the fire. Sometimes it’s to dry out your socks. Other times it’s to stand in the acrid smoke in order to spite the mosquitoes.

Sometimes it’s because you’re here in this most beautiful and peaceful place, surrounded by nature and some of your closest people. Because the crackle of the fire between easy conversations is the soundtrack of relaxation. Because the sun falling below the horizon casts indescribable hues of gold and pink, contrasted against an aquamarine sky studded with diamond points of evening stars.

As in years past, I find it impossible to cram all of the activity and beauty into a single post. In fact, it’s difficult to properly describe the tranquility of life on an island. Like the theme to the TV show Gilligan’s Island, “No phone, no lights, no motorcars. Not a single luxury.”

Okay, so fresh coffee may be a luxury the castaways didn’t have.

And a down sleeping bag.

More next time. Take care, and keep in touch.

 

Paz

 

Seeing Season

Folks generally think of the year as having four seasons. I find there are many more, mini-seasons and overlapping seasons.

There’s “Spring” in its largest sense. Then there’s Maple Season, Mud Season, black fly season, followed by mosquito season.

“Summer” is a calendar season as well as a frame of mind, I suppose. Within summer are countless bloom seasons for indigenous plants. A hatch for the bass in the pond.

And so on for fall. A leaf season and a frost season and a holiday season.

Winter has its own hunting season, and fishing, through the ice. Ski season, snowmobile season, work-in-the-shop season.

This time of year I lament the passing of “The Seeing Season”.

From mid-October until mid-May, we can see farther and wider than any other time of year, as all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. Walking the trail, we can see through the denuded trees, see the geese on Maggie’s pond. See the turkeys beyond the hedgerow.

There’s a thrill to see leaves returning. Green and blue, earth and sky, my favorite colors.

Still, I enjoy the half-year known as “Seeing Season”. From bird-watching to hunting to just-plain-being-able-to-see-through-the-trees, it’s an improved field of view.

It seems the fall, winter, and early spring lend themselves to an appreciation of the surroundings. Less involved activities leave us more time for contemplation. When we think we’re going to contract cabin fever, a little time in the great wide open will have you feeling better quickly. (Sometimes you are required to feel better quickly so we can get in, and out of the cold!)

It’s a good time now, really, to have the flora grow thickly, as we are distracted by so many things immediately before us.

Now it’s time for boating season, and fishing in waders! We can walk the trail with tiny grandchildren without fear of their freezing.

We can dig out the pile of camping gear and get ready for the next set of seasons.

And when we get that thunderstorm in camp, we’ll be glad for every leaf above us.

Soggy Camp

Soggy Camp

Take care and keep in touch,

 

Paz

Big Saturday

 

Barn & Cottonwood At Sunrise

Barn & Cottonwood At Sunrise

I’m awakened by the whoosh of the bedroom door flying open, followed by some huffing and puffing sounds, followed by jingling of dog tags, and sometimes a wet nose nudge to my face.

It’s Big Saturday, and Chuy’s the first up, ready to make the most of it.

Any given  Saturday will find me thusly occupied: driving to the “transfer station” with the trash, reviewing the list in my head; chores and demands of the day. On one of these Saturdays I suddenly remembered Saturdays as a child.

Saturday was the best day when I was a schoolboy. No school, Saturday morning cartoons (back in the when, they were a Saturday thing), and all day to play!

Riding along in the Funbus, I declared to Chuy “It’s Saturday!“, as if I was ten years old and had just leapt from my bed. Since that day I remember that spirit and make the same announcement aloud each Saturday. It reminds me to greet the day with a sense of excitement and wonder, ready for adventure, and to remember we have all day to do as we please.

First Frost

First Frost

For quite a number of years now, the biggest thing after the dump run is Big Saturday Walk with Chuy the Wonderdog. On the Big Saturday Walk, Chuy leads the way. We go where he wants to and stay as long as he chooses. Sometimes we’ll make our way to the eastern extent of the trail, up to the hardwood forest. Sometimes we’re drawn down the side trails, or over the crest of Widowmaker field.

This is a constitutional walk for me, more so than one for exercise, though in snowshoes trodding through a foot of snow there will be a workout. We cover a regular circuit, much as a wolf pack would do on an occasional basis. Checking the perimeter, marking our territory. Chuy sets the pace, and I dutifully follow (often with Doone the Cat), usually remembering the camera.

This ritual is without a doubt the Biggest Big Saturday part of Big Saturday for me. This is a time when I can truly slow down and relax. We’re away from the homestead, so I can’t see all the chores and tasks that must be done. Aside from the camera, no other electronics are allowed.  No phone, no music player.

My companion is quite reticent. He’s also hard-of-hearing, so calling out is pointless. That’s fine with me, as I rarely utter a word aloud, except perhaps an exclamation of wonderment at some magical moment afield.

Between the walks, Big Saturday is filled with a wide variety of chores, labors of love, and adventures. In summer, we may spend most of the day mowing the lawns and nature trails. In winter, we might ride snowmobiles around the yard & trail, or perhaps do some ice fishing. In spring we’ll wade a couple of creeks stalking trout, in fall we’ll spend some time on the rifle range, siting in a new scope or just target-shooting for the fun of it.

When the time finally comes to take off our shoes and don some soft pajamas, I feel best when I can tell Chuy “We wrung the heck out of that day, didn’t we?”. Then it’s on to Big Saturday night TV-watching of Superman (the TV show), Star Trek (the original series), Lost In Space, and  Svengoolie, an old-time hosted horror movie show.

For this Big Saturday, we’ll have a Family Game Night with two daughters, their beaus and a couple of grandkids. We’ll loudly play some board games around the big kitchen table, warmed by the pellet stove, the homestead of 31 years, and the love of family (and probably some hot chocolate!).

Take care and keep in touch.

 

Paz