JUNE XX, 20XX
4:07 a.m.: Fell asleep last night dreaming of fishing for trout. Every cast on the mark, every retrieve bringing another fish to net. Adoring throngs lined the shore, waving handkerchiefs and shouting, “Huzzah, Quill Gordon, huzzah! Working where others come to play, huzzah! Such fine fly fishing always so close at hand and fishing privileges to boot! Huzzah, Quill Gordon, Huzzah!”
My casts shot out true — back-hand, under-hand and behind my back — and each one hooked a trout. As I motored past the main dock (where twenty beautiful women wearing bikinis and waders went positively bonkers over my patented dipsy-doodle, backwards-between-the-legs triple haul) the cheers changed to whistles and I began to wake up.
The whistles in my dream were in reality the songs of birds, serenading the arrival of first light. Very few people get to experience a real dawn chorus of songbirds any more. Thrushes and warblers, finches and wrens, robins, cat birds, chats, flickers, phoebes and sparrows joining together with dozens and dozens of their neighbors to sing in the morning with what most people interpret as melodious joy. In reality, the songs of birds are more likely to be challenges and threats — territorial exclamations tossed into the dawn — and, when taken that way, it is more an early morning cacophony than lovely dawn chorus.
Stupid noisy birds.
4:12 a.m.: Opt for another couple hours of sleep instead of getting up. Doze back off, dreaming of shotgun blasts and feathers mixed with leaves sifting down into the dew on the grass.
6:03 a.m.: Awaken to the rumble and fumes of a large diesel engine idling beneath the open bedroom window. Horn honks and I pull on whatever pants and shirt are handy.
6:04 a.m.: Open front door and step out to where a large, black, 2011 Preposterous Motor Company Behemoth sits idling, its driver’s window down just an inch. The man inside says through the gap, “Oh, good! You’re up. Quill, we’re out of toilet paper. And towels. While you’re at it, grab some towels, too.”
6:05 a.m.: Gagging on the urge to say what no one has ever said to the man, I put a big bag of toilet paper and towels into the Behemoth’s back seat when I hear the lock click open.
6:10 a.m.: Gagging on coffee that tastes like feet because I lost count of the scoops, I reckon the day has begun.
7:00 a.m.: Cats and chickens have food and fresh water. Walk to dock.
7:15 a.m.: Last night’s rain mysteriously still in boats. Get pump.
7:30 a.m.: Still pumping boats.
8:00 a.m.: More coffee.
8:20 a.m.: Walk across dam and into woods to spillway. Clogged with leaves and pine needles. Forgot to wear high boots. Wade in barefoot. Nice trickle of Blue Winged Olives coming off.
8:34 a.m.: Toe stops bleeding.
8:45 a.m.: Spotted by driver of Behemoth. “Quill, our toilet has stopped working,” he says.
9:00 a.m.: Plunger fails. Sounds from shower drain indicate clog further downstream.
9:10 a.m.: Septic tank open. Words fail. Clog broken up with long stick shoved into pipe. Flow restored. Remembered to jump back this time.
9:15 a.m.: Discussion of “city” toilet paper use and its effect on “country” plumbing goes nowhere.
10:00 a.m.: Linen company truck arrives. 40 sets of used sheets, 80 pillow cases, 100 wet bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, etc. traded for same number, clean and dry.
10:30 a.m.: Check emails and phone messages, schedule and invoice new reservations.
11:15 a.m.: Guests at Queen of the Waters camp have lost boat anchor. New anchor provided, along with instructions for tying secure knots.
12:15 p.m.: Pause to notice what a stunningly beautiful day it has become. Almost makes up for the misery of one really crappy day in January. Evening mayfly hatch should be epic.
12:17 p.m.: Prepare bags of sheets and towels for change-outs in three camps, to be done by 4:00.
12:30 p.m.: Arrive at Parmacheene Belle. Member “forgot” about 11:00 check out. Given one hour to clean up and vacate. Last evening’s mayflies on the undersides of leaves, shedding skins. If big hatch fails to materialize maybe there will be a nice spinner fall.
12:45 p.m.: Clean Gray Ghost camp, make beds, stock firewood, etc. Member did good job cleaning, goes quickly.
1:30 p.m.: Back to Parmacheene Belle. Disaster declared. Member gone, dishes in sink, food on counters and floors, bathroom beyond belief.
3:00 p.m.: Hustle to clean and make beds at Mickey Finn camp.
3:15 p.m.: Members arrive 45 minutes before check-in time, upset camp is not ready early. Move their gear and themselves in anyway.
3:58 p.m.: All camps ready for new guests. Garbage and used linens taken care of.
4:20 p.m.: Power out in Queen of the Waters. Member mentions “sparks” when connecting battery to charger. Move red clip to + terminal from – and black from + to -. Reset breaker and explain (again) proper battery charging procedures.
4:45 p.m.: Lunch.
5:00 p.m.: Caddis flies coming off. Cars pull into parking lot as anglers and their families arrive for the evening.
5:04 p.m.: Mayhem on dock as guest misses transom and electric motor sinks into two feet of muck beneath four feet of water.
5:04:30 p.m.: Member pushes guest off dock.
5:06 p.m.: Guest pulled ashore. Begin dredging for motor with grappling hook.
5:10 p.m.: Motor pulled out and drained.
5:30 p.m.: Dogs and children running rampant. Restroom needs attention.
6:00 p.m.: Big cream-colored drakes begin to take wing. Dogs and children knock over hot charcoal grill.
6:10 p.m.: Grass fire out. Burgers total loss.
7:00 p.m.: Twelve boats on the water. Dogs and children still here.
7:12 p.m.: Informed I “might want to take a look at the restroom” in the lodge.
7:15 p.m.: Discover toilet seat apparently snapped itself off the base. No witnesses.
7:25 p.m.: Who’s laughing at my supply of extra toilet seats now?
7:45 p.m.: New seat installed. Restroom cleaned again. Nearly choke on cloud of mayflies on walk back to the dock.
7:50 p.m.: Casting room on dock at a premium. Small skirmishes breaking out.
8:00 p.m.: Kitchen sink at Queen of the Waters not draining.
8:20 p.m.: Drain trap cleared of two plastic forks and half a hot dog. Works now.
8:40 p.m.: Quick bite to eat.
9:00 p.m.: Asleep in chair, dreaming of fishing for trout.