A Somewhat Disjointed and Not Quite Complete Accounting of My Whereabouts for the Past Few Weeks
The transition from snowbound no-man’s land to lively, functioning, family fishing camp took place quickly this year at Fish in a Barrel Pond. It did not happen in the blink of an eye, or even overnight, but it happened fast, the rapid progress seeming even more so because of the tremendous amounts of ice and snow remaining at the beginning of the month. Small patches of ice remain, tucked up against the north sides of buildings, and snow can still be found in some shady, deep-wood recesses, but no other vestiges of winter are seen.
Spring won out after a final battle that included snowflakes the size of silver dollars and lightning that lit up the night with white-hot intensity, erasing all color as it reflected off clouds above and deep snow below. Cold rain began to fall, freezing at night, gluing particles together and changing the texture of the old snow from fine to coarse, eventually creating ice balls the size of marbles that pressed themselves together under their own weight into a mass that resembled a glacier.
Temperatures hovered just above freezing for a few days and nights, turning trickles into rivulets, and the melt was on. The air was filled with the scents of an awakening world and also with a sense of relaxation as the deepening thaw set in.
There is a saying in New England that you should stick to your long-johns until your long-johns stick to you, and the first chilly morning without them is both a a shock and a pleasure. Each successive day is easier to take and a bit more normal than marvelous but some people, like my friend Eugene, can have a hard time making an easy transition. One particularly cold winter, not too long ago, Eugene wore his long-johns morning, noon and night from the first week of deer season to the second week of spring turkey season. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to wear them in the tub and combine bath night and laundry day into one weekly event, but the hair on his chest, arms and legs grew through the mesh and he was forced to whittle away at the tangled mess, bit by bit, until nearly the 4th of July.
Temperatures soared into the 70s at mid-month but, even as our deep snow pack melted, the ice on the pond remained. It was weak but thick and there was nothing to do but hope it would go out in time, which was just as well because there were plenty of other things to do to get ready for opening day.
Most materials have a certain, useful lifetime and the PVC pipes carrying water through the cottages is no exception. It has turned brittle with age and its useful life is done. Break after break was discovered and repaired, so many, in fact, that some sections of pipe have so many patches that they merely occupy the same space as the original pipe. It was close, but water eventually reached every sink, tap and toilet on the property.
I was not the only one out plugging leaks while the snow melted. Unable to stand the sound of running water, beavers went back to work, shoving logs, sticks and mud into the culvert pipes I worked so hard last fall and winter to keep clear.
The next person I hear call beavers “nature’s little engineers” will be slapped. Random sticks and twigs with a bunch of mud and other stuff on top does not make me think of engineering at all. It makes me think of how I’d rather be someplace other than up to my waist in cold water (even with waders on it is cold) pulling a bunch of muck from my culvert pipes.
To make this long story a bit shorter, the roads to the furthest camps were finally cleared of snow on the 21st.
The ice on the pond disappeared quietly the night of the 24th.
And, just before sunrise on the 26th, after six months of solitude, I stood on the main boat dock, in front of 20 eager members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, and shouted the magic words, “SHUT UP AND FISH!”
Let the fun begin.
Sounds like fun Quill.
I love beavers. They’re nature’s little engineers you know.
Beavers are evil. I think they are conspiring with the platypus to take over the world.
Nice wheels, Quill! Also, that first pic is neat.
Stevo, how can you say such a mean thing about nature’s little engineers?!
Oh, yes, Wanda, it was fun. The glue for the PVC pipes got me really high. Well, maybe not high. Stumbling around drooling was more like it.
Stevo, I believe you are correct, although I kind of have to admire the platypus. The males have that cool poisonous spur they use to render the females – how shall I say it? – more cooperative? Other than that I guess they just muck around eating worms.
Anners, that is Boomer. Boomer was wearing winter chains for driving on snow and ice, looking all tough. Now Boomer is just muddy and relegated to trash detail and hauling firewood. The first pic is of the main spillway out of Fish in a Barrel pond.
We will discuss beaver perception readjustment later, girls.
I hate beavers. And squirrels. Grandma said beavers make as good a meal as a mess of squirrels, only they’re greasier.
So the peace and quiet appears to be over. Do you suppose that you might look back some day this summer and say, “I wish it were still winter”?
Hey! Isn’t it, like, your patriotic duty as a Vermonter to mention maple syrup when you write about the arrival of Spring? I want to hear about a bumper crop of that sweet sap, dagnabbit.
And, around here, a lot of the engineers i meet look like beavers — squinty-eyed, buck-toothed, and humorlessly blocking passageways.
Oh! Give my regards to Boomer, Quill.
“SHUT UP AND FISH”
Some of my favorite words.
I’ve never seen any Beaver around here, but we have huge rats that look like them.
No, YOU shut up and fish!
I saw your hair, I saw your hair! (sung to the tune of “ha ha ha ha HA, ha ha ha ha HA!”) And having seen it, I think you should have a dead frog barrette art project in the works. I think you’d look manly and virile with a dead frog barrette in your locks. I do.
I did not put that smiley in there; some kind of code trickery occurred when I tried to close parentheses.
Pandemonic – Beavers are certainly greasier than squirrels. I’m glad beavers are not the size of squirrels because instead of fighting just one or two at a time I’d be fighting hordes of them!
Corina – Just the other day I wished it was winter again, but only because the blackflies came out.
Shadodottir – I was completely remiss in leaving out any reference to the golden, sweet, nectar of the gods. It must have been my syrup-induced dementia.
Anners – Boomer sez hey.
Shawn – Keep the rats. I have plenty of rodents as it is. Hey, Texas is a big place! Maybe there’d be room for some of my critters? I’ll mail some right out to you.
Jackie, oh, Jackie – The dead frog barrette is genius! Can I sign you up for a couple? The road past my place is littered with run-over amphibians.
And the smiley? There I was, all atwitter with the thought that Jackie had taken a moment to express the merest shred of flirty acknowlegdement. Then I read your second comment, taking it back, and my heart nearly broke. The only thing keeping me going is my belief that any love, even accidental or inadvertent, is good love.