The season is coming to an end here at Fish in a Barrel Pond. Four more weeks before I drain the water lines, close the cottages and take one of my legendary end-of-season naps but, in the meantime, the members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society are squeezing in as much time here as they can.
Last week brought warm, tropical air our way with torrential rains followed by the first hard frost of fall.
The maples dropped most of their leaves and the brilliant scarlets are gone, but beech, ash, oak and popple still shine with golds, purples and surprisingly colorful russet tones.
Six inches of rain poured off the hillsides, bringing every downed or loose leaf within a mile and a half with it.
I’m lucky. Not only do I get to see those leaves in all their autumn glory as they turn, I get to see them again, a day or two after they fall, when they are carried by the current to the outlet of Fish in a Barrel Pond where they clog the fish gates I maintain. The gates were installed to keep the fish in — and they serve that purpose very well — but they keep everything else in, too. First it’s pine needles, then it’s maple leaves followed by ash, birch and popple, all cleared by hand, by me. The oak leaves come down late, after the water has cooled to bone-chilling, and I’ll clear them, too, chipping sodden mats from the ice holding them in place.
After last week’s storm I cleared the gates twice a day until the water level dropped back to near normal, cold water tugging at my legs with a deafening roar.
Now it’s just another daily chore.
Some folks have been saying “It’s cold!” but I remind them it isn’t. Saying “cold” now doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room to describe the temperature in January and besides that, their boogers ain’t frozen so it ain’t cold. Of course it’s easy for me to say things like that to under-prepared city fellows as I stand there in my flannel-lined trousers, two shirts and fleece vest.
We’re winding down for the year and it’s the season of good-byes and farewells. There is a touch of sadness to that thought even if I did a little happy dance in the road as one group left on Sunday, not to return for at least six months. Just like the population in general, a certain percentage of the membership is clueless, insane, or unable to be anything other than miserable bastards but those percentages are small. The rest of them are just fine and I’ll miss them once we close down.
In the meantime, though, the brookies are donning their finest courtship and breeding colors, the rainbows are feeding like pigs and there is a whole month of fine fall fishing ahead.