Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Day of August

Our errands done, we go fishing. We take the Lund down the ‘stream’ toward the lake, zigzagging among the dead-heads, tall grass, pickerel weed patches and boulders. Gary stops and puts the motor in reverse to clear the weeds.

The afternoon sun is milder somehow than even just a week ago. Some grasses near the shore have turned brown. The geese gather there, a few more each day, eating in the grass, waiting for the hundreds who will soon join them.The tips of maple branches are turning crimson.

As the boat glides through the channel, small bass and pickerel dart past in the bright green underwater grass. Boatmen scatter around us. Huge dragonflies zoom overhead. Soon they’ll die off, but for now they are powerful airplanes, droning above us and landing on dreiki -  freshwater driftwood – the old roots and trunks of fallen trees. A kingfisher poses on top of a huge tree root base lying on its side in the water. Its roots fan up and out, like a pair of Hindu dancer’s hands. They grow larger each summer as the water level drops. The bird poses there until we get too close. It flies off and circles over the stream.

We start casting as soon as we pass through the maze of Clorox bottle marked boulders at the entrance to the lake. No luck in our usual weed bed, but across the way in the cove, we put on heavier lures and start catching bass, white perch, and a few yellow perch. One bass is so small that I can hardly tell he was hooked. I hold him up and inspect him, as I get him off the lure. A micro-bass, he is the size of a Christmas ornament, an exquisite miniature.

The breeze is light, but steady. Clouds build to the southwest, but we can tell they will bypass us. The sun turns orange in the haze as it hangs over the treetops.  A Sandpiper stands on a rock nearby and bobs its head. We call him Bob. (Hours later, Sibley's guide tells me that he is a Yellowlegs Sandpiper.) We troll out over the deep hole where the big fish are hanging fifty feet down at the bottom, per our fish finder. None take our lures, as shiny and flashy as they are.

We weave back up the stream at sunset. The water turns pale blue to match the sky. Shy ducks, smaller than mallards, slip along side us and fade into the weeds, trying to stay out of sight. Gary casts for pickerel on a Skitterwalk but no luck. Pulling up to the dock we find Jasper waiting for us on the shore, which in recent weeks has transformed itself from boulders to a sand beach.

The full moon rises, a ripe persimmon. The crickets' quiet songs ring through the woods.

One month from now this will be a different world. But on the last night of August, the stillness of late summer is rich with quiet wonder.