Fishing at Sunset

"So let me get this right, we are fishing with Canadian worms, grown in Michigan and trucked to Maine?" I said as if pondering the ins and outs of space travel. "Why the fuck wouldn't they just grow them in Maine or at the very least, call them Michigan worms?"

"Not sure, perhaps Canadian is some mongoloid earthworm bred for fishing" Tucker chirped, distracted by the writhing worm lanced by his size-4 hook.

"Regardless of its etymology, it's not like worms give a shit about where they are grown. I mean, mangoes only grow in the tropics, but worms can grow any where there is fucking dirt, right?" I swore out of the corner of my mouth as I untangled the bird's nest surrounding the end of my fishing reel.

"Yah, not sure," Tucker quickly dismissed. "Leave it to Walmart, they were the only place open," he said, pulling back the bail arm and clutching the line with his forefinger.

With a cast and a plunk, the question of origin of the name and need to import fishing worms was laid to rest as our attention transferred intently to the orange bobber swaying to and fro on the evening's waves.

Casting and then reeling in as our patience flowed in a wave-like motion, Tucker and I watched the sun slip towards the trees and vacation houses on the other side of Messalonskee Pond.

Contemplating the cloud formations, what we will be doing in five years and the origins of various bird songs, our conversations meandered with no agenda. Focusing on our bobbers, time slid by as we watched for a much anticipated movement of signaling a curious fish.

The Canadian worms; grown in Michigan and skewered in Maine.

After an hour and a half, an overzealous cast snagged a sixty-foot pine tree hanging over the bank. Tugging and swearing, the line snapped, ending our evening of fishing. Other than the tree, we caught nothing. Not even a bite. We will be back tomorrow.

Here are some more links,
Fishing at Sunset (Picasa).


Playing in the Woods

Holding my Swiss army knife in my right hand and pulling down with my left, I sliced through the topside of the bending maple branch. Making little headway, my arms tired and I let go, dropping six inches to the ground. "I can't believe mom dulled my knife, she never does that to yours," I yelled in frustration to my younger brother, Tim, stacking seven-foot tree sections in a tepee formation some fifty feet away. Tim had no scars on his hands, mine looked like a pair of RRL jeans.

"Let me see yours," I said motioning to the small red knife in his hand. Thumbing the blade open, I avoided the bandaids on my index finger and rubbed the blade. "Yah, yours is much sharper. I am almost nine and mom wont let me have a sharp knife," I chirped like a senior complaining to the coach when a sophomore gets the start at homecoming. Tim said nothing and kept pulling the bark off a freshly cut sapling.

Walking back to the tree, I jumped up and hung on like Stallone on the cover of Cliffhanger. With a downward yank of the pocket knife, the small branch cracked under my weight and I fell to the ground with an accomplished grin on my face. Holding the knife in one hand and the branch in the other, I jumped up and dragged my prize back towards our recently conceived tepee.

Popham, Maine.

Without the luxury of abundant neighbor kids and the infrastructure afforded by suburban playgrounds, my brother and I wandered aimlessly through the hundred acre woods that surrounded our house. Shooting slingshots, dirtying clothes, playing like cowboys and Indians, and making forts and dams, we passed our time in the forest.

Small Point, Maine.

A decade and half later, I still venture into the woods when restless and frustrated. Trading in my LA Lights for Danner Hiking boots and Vibram Fivefinger running shoes, I explore the woods at 22 with the same youthful exuberance I did at 8-1/2.

North Belgrade, Maine

Western Maine.

Kennebec Highlands, Maine.

Prindle Mountain, Washington.

Other than maybe a Bruce Springsteen Concert, few places could could jointly host Choco-wearing Trustafarians from New England and Cabela's-outfitted deer hunters from the rural Midwest like the woods do. Regardless of their political standpoints on the duration of the waiting period to own an assault rifle or eagerness to pack their bowel movements out in plastic bags, they are drawn to the woods in a similar way. The woods are special.

Here are some more links,
Trees (Picasa),
The Woods (ART).


A Hike in the Snow

On Christmas Eve, my brother, dad and I set out on an adventure into the Silver Star Mountains. A drive up gravel roads to inspect the previous night's snowfall quickly turned into a hike when my dad pulled his 4runner to the side of the road and asked if I had ample footwear for a hike. I looked down at the red laces on my Danner Mountain Light II's on my feet and responded with an unequivocal "Yes."

For the next three hours, we slowly gained altitude tromping around the Silver Star range, overlooking Portland, the foothills of the Cascades and the Columbia River Gorge. We trudged through six inches of snow on the old logging roads that dissect the hills like trails of ants on a kitchen floor as clouds flew past east to west.

My dad, and dedicated proofreader, on the left and my brother Tim on the right. For reference my dad is 6'0".

Frozen leaves on the side of the trail.

The north face of Mt. Hood overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and the foothills of the Cascades. Snow highlights the clear cuts. As a teenager I spent most of my winters snowboarding on Mt Hood's east face.

The sun started sinking below the hills as we made our way back towards the car. Snow trapped around my foot seeped down into my socks like water in a flowerpot. The breeze picked up, numbing my hands as I cradled my camera. My brother and dad charged on ahead as I lingered behind taking photos and listening to the post-storm tranquility. I trudged on smiling ear to ear.

Here are some more links,
A Hike on Christmas Eve (Picasa),
Outdoors (ART).


A Campfire at Sunset

The sun sank behind the fir trees on a nearby ridge as my younger brother and I searched the hilltop for scraps of dry wood. After weeks of rain, dry wood was as rare as a liberal at West Point. Armed with a Leatherman, a magnesium fire starter stick, and a handful of receipts from the glove compartment of my dad's truck we set out to warm our cold fingers and hear the snapping of a small campfire.

A cold east wind flew through the gorge, bending Douglas Fir trees and complicating our attempts of starting a fire.

The last wisps of light drifted west as I scraped fragments of magnesium off the starter stick onto the receipt. I gingerly set up a small Tee-Pee around the dime-sized pile of magnesium and struck the ignition stick. For an instant, the flames lept up around the cedar kindling like second graders around an 18-year-old teacher's assistant. Despite my feverish attempts to blow over the miniature log house, the flames only darkened the frayed edges of the cedar, dying out completely within a minute. Unfazed, I pulled a rumpled oil change receipt from October, 2007 out of my pocket and started chipping away at the fire starter.

A small flame quickly warmed my hands and illuminated my shadow on a nearby bush. After thirty minutes of breathing wood smoke, dirtying my knees and periodic, frantic searches for pieces of dry firewood, the shy flames finally lingered. Quickly, the dinner plate sized blaze developed into a self respecting campfire.

Tim's well loved, size 14 Danners warming by the fire.

For the next hour and a half, Tim and I stoked the fire and chatted brotherly things. We watched wither and warp, and hiss and pop.

Some will talk over a beer, others over a caffeinated beverage, for me I will take a fire any day. I love the smell of smoke, the labor of splitting wood, the occasional teary eyes from changing wind and the lingering flavor of fire for weeks on your jacket or sweater.

Here are some more links,
A Campfire at Sunset (Picasa).