MIRTHLESS

16 Jan

Just a little off today; glum, blue.

So I sit here in my light brown lounger, foot rest up, looking at a mélange on my wall.

At the top there is a black framed shadow box from one of my sons. I holds an overly large fishing fly with the hook end imbedded in a small cork. It is a decorative piece given to me as a gift and not meant for fishing. I enjoy looking at it.

Below it are eleven frames, in brown, they hold photos of things that my sons and I have experienced in the borderlands between the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence River.

This borderland is a mixture of mountain rivers, pouring out of the Adirondacks, flowing swiftly towards the St. Lawrence and then calming down just before they give up their independence to the big river.

These scenes, at one time – – – not too many years ago – – – could be seen clearly from my lounge chair. I could look at them and imagine the good times that my sons and I spent on these waters.

Now, I must leave my lounge chair to walk over to the wall. It is not even ten feet away. However, I must get much closer to squint at the photos, so I can draw a picture for you. I have no digital camera, which would be much easier. However, digital cameras have no emotions.

The first one, in the top left corner, – – – excuse me while I look – – – is the Chateaugay River on the morning after a nights rain. It is milky (turbid to those of you with ecological degrees) and wide.

There is a lone figure on the far side of the river. I believe it is my son’s father; lost in his version of Nirvana.

The next scene is dark tannic water rushing around a twelve foot boulder. On the left is the remnants of a pool where the trout hide. On the right is where the water has escaped this eddy, foam covered and rushing north towards the river named after a saint.

I must now rise from my chair, one more time, to determine what I must surely see. Ah yes! The bottom of Chasm Falls, fifteen minutes north of Owl’s Head. This is where Chasm Falls ends its plunge down a mountainside. Surely this pool is not the most beautiful of all those that make up the falls, but it does promise a memory of what is to be seen above; waterfall after waterfall after waterfall.

Next is the last scene on the top right of the mélange. If my weakening memory serves me correctly it is where the Chateaugay widens after it has plunged over High Falls, rushed through the first chasm, passed through a limestone tunnel under the abandoned railroad tracks, flowed between the remainder of the keystones that once supported the first bridge to cross the Chateaugay, and then under the new high bridge.

This is where my son had caught a 24 inch brown trout – – – just to let me know that he could beat the 23 inch brown trout that I had caught the day prior.

Moving down to the first photo on the left of the second row I see trees. But this is not a river picture – – – I will be right back as soon as I inspect it. Yes – – – one of my favorite areas – – – looking downstream from the pool behind the cemetery – – – or behind the old barn as we called it before we found the cemetery road.

Many trout, both large and small have been taken from this pool. Many hours of enjoyment with an old friend and then my three boys.

How the mind plays tricks as you age. My mind knows the river but it showed me the pool. The photo is not of the pool. It is a bend in the river just below the pool. The river flows northward. Beyond this bend lay many small pools and eddys – – – each one holding some sort of trout or other – – – each catch a surprise as to its lineage.

I would be short changing you if I did not tell you about a phenomena – – – or maybe simply a display of the Chateaugay’s quirkiness. In this area, downstream from the cemetery/old barn pool, things change from year to year. Even from decade to decade; since I have fished it (or imagined my fishing it as I am doing today) for over forty-five years.

This phenomena is the creation and obliteration of deep holes at random places. My logic tells me that these holes are created by the spring freshets that flow heavy with a mixture of ice floes and water released from the two Chateaugay  lakes. The ice builds up to form a dam, the water flows beneath, and erodes the pebbles, stones and loaf sized rocks beneath. Then, in a year or two year, another freshet fills in what had been created previously.

Isn’t nature remarkable?

And now please excuse me one more time while I peruse the next photo.

It is another view of where the river is momentarily held in position by that big boulder. The foamy river continues northward. However, in this view one can almost see the river as it heads back toward the road leading to Owl’s Head.

Next is a photo of what would appear to be nothing but a river with trees on either side. My mind clarifies the scene for me. The water is a bit muddy from the previous night’s rain. There is at least  half mile distance between the photographer and where the river makes a bend westward.

There are two items in the photo that the casual observer’s mind would not register. The first is one of those small treeless islands that may exist one year and disappear the next. Typically these islands are covered with river grasses. The second item is a big rock, formally known by my sons and I as “THE BIG ROCK.” When we say ‘the big rock’ to each other we know exactly which rock we are talking about. We also know its exact location; down a steep and very deep river bank near an old potato farm.

You will not see my middle son in any of the photos. He is the one taking them and he loves to throw a few lures or worms at the big rock.

The big rock promises a big trout every year but it only gives up one every five years. The last time the big rock was nice to me was the day it yielded that 23 inch trout.

The last picture on the right of this row is my youngest son fishing a nice piece of river. When he fishes he is in absolute concentration. He has learned the water, the eddys, the rocks, the submerged logs, and the feeding patterns. He concentrates on fishing but remains aware of everything around him that may effect the fish.

There are three photos on the bottom row. The first two are of Chasm Falls.

The leftmost one shows a narrow and long fall that dumps into a large pool. We have caught quite a few trout here. We have lost quite a few trout here. We have also lost a lot of the terminal equipment from the end of our lines here. It is a hard pool to fish but at the same time a fun pool to fish.

I leave the falls for a moment to draw you a memory photo. High above is a cliff. I am sure that is was part of the falls eons ago. But now it is a cliff with a pretty bluff resting at its top. There are hemlocks and balsams and prince of pine ground cover and ancient rocks with lichen growing on their varying surfaces. This is the spot where, one day after a hard day of fishing, my sons and I built a small fire from tinder. We cooked baby white potatoes, beans with brown sugar and mustard, and a few hot dogs or fish (I can’t remember which). We talked and cooked and the boys investigated all the rest atop this bluff. It was a good time.

The next photo shows a very different waterfall; however, also from the myriad of drops at Chasm Falls. It is wide and full of white water. It has several monstrous boulders shoving the water this way and that. Your ears can not pick up the sound of the birds that rest in the nearby hemlocks and balsams. The roar of the water drowns all other sounds.

The last photo is framed by the green branches of either an elm or ash tree. The river is narrow at this point and may well be the Chateaugay or the Salmon. The water appears silver on its surface and white where it eats at a boulder. It does not look deep but it does look difficult to cross. The boulders twist at your feet and threaten to throw you into the river. Maybe the boulders figure that if they feed you to the river it will not want to eat at them any longer.

So we fish mostly from the shore or venture out only where one would not get a good cold soaking.

Below all these memories is a sun-catcher. It has two hummingbirds feeding on some sort of trumpet flower vine. The vine grows on a white picket fence. The sun-catcher was a gift to my wife from her two grandsons. They gave it to her just before she started losing her memory.

Somehow all this fits very well together for me. The sun-catcher is out of place. It does not fit well with the fishing memories; and yet it does. Maybe it is just a wall of memories and that is why everything fits.

Maybe that is why.

THIS POST IS CONNECTED TO

“THE GIFT”

WHOSE LINK IS THE GIFT BELOW

FEEL FREE TO OPEN IT

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4 Responses to “MIRTHLESS”

  1. Amber Danette January 16, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    I hope You feel better soon

  2. Lily Lau January 18, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    This was so deep… made me read it several times slowly, Wally!

    • Waldo "Wally" Tomosky January 19, 2015 at 2:06 am #

      I hope you liked it Lily. Did you read “The Gift” (that was linked) also?

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