Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools

It's near dead calm and raining...but I don't mind the rain...and I love the calm. I planned on a salt water day, but haven't gotten my act together. Instead, I set out to Portage Bay to record and measure two beaver lodges. At the water, as I empty my pockets into the drybag where valuables are kept while on the water, I come up with two sets of keys. I have my wife's keys and she will need them soon. I find a fellow, J. at the nearby community center and he lets me use his phone. S. will drive down and meet me, saving me a 2 mile portage home. Then, while I wait, J. brings me a chair. Then he brings me a hot cup of tea. But, my wife never shows. I'm sure she can't find me, so I load up and portage home, knowing that she will feel worse than I do.

Once everyone is all back on level ground, I head back out the door and run the Harrison portage, which is just a mile. It is still raining. Finally in the water, the big lake is very calm and it is raining a light misting sprinkle that deadens the city noise and filters out the details of distant shores.

I spot a ring neck duck and this, as always, reminds me of my old boss, Frank Bell. He died a couple years ago at the age of 91. He wasn't particularly duck-like except that when the two of us were toiling away at some dirty work in the bowels of the machine shop, his hair often got messed up, rising in the back and matching the shape of the feathers on the top of a ring neck duck's head. The reference is purely geometric, but it is a blessing to find something in nature that reminds one of old friends. Frank always seemed to know more than he let on. I always knew that he fully understood my youthful wildness and misdirections and I guessed that it was through his own experience, as we never really talked about it that much. He did let stuff out at times though. He knew far more about Harley Davidson motorcycles than any other guy who rode a 3 speed bike 6 miles one-way to steel toed tanker boots. He told me once how while riding some old type of moped, a car handle, the old lever style - the ones that hooked forward, snagged his glove and flipped him end over end. I remember when he became the shop foreman and rated a parking spot amongst all the senior professors (this was at a university). He showed up in a beater $300 AMC Pacer. I always loved seeing that car parked next to the BMW's and Audi's. I'm pretty sure that Frank knew me inside out and backwards.

The ring neck gone, I decide to make rounds...just a survey to see what has changed since I was last here. At the alder stand near the West Lodge, I find that the beaver has nearly cut down another tree. It won't be long before it falls. That one change to the marsh seems to satisfy. I have paddled until I am just as wet as if I had fallen out of the boat. It is a wondrous day...a day that most will moan about. A day for screw-ups and ring necked ducks. A day for thoughts in the calm of a steady rain.

1 comment:

Kathleen Faulkner said...

Great post, Scott. Thanks!