Trumpeter swans on the pond last evening and night. Their honking sounded like they were in the cabin with me, not three hundred yards away. Whoever named them must have had a tin ear if that's what they thought trumpets sounded like. No doubt about it they're honkin' birds. There's only a pair, not the usual flock that passes by in the fall. Maybe they're going to stay and have babies. That would be a treat.
In the growing light before daybreak they began to sound off again. Enough to get me stumbling to the pond in my underwear to check them out. Throw in the cawing of the crows, a twitter here and there, and the drilling of woodpeckers working for their breakfast and it was downright deafening. Can't say for sure if the bird sounds are music to my ears but they tell me all is well in the woods.
Those same bird noises also greet the dawn in the city. But so does the beginning of rush hour and the chorus of a million tires on pavement. I recall coming home from work at four a.m. on Saturday mornings when I was in high school to similar sounds. Maybe life was simpler back in '64.
There seems to be only a pair of swans. I'm hoping it's a mating pair and not a gay couple. Our state legislature is voting on same sex marriage as I write this and it looks like a real possibility. As far as I'm concerned that's a good thing. As far as the swans are concerned I'm pulling for heterosexual and hoping for babies. Might even be cause enough for a spotting scope.
I'm thinking of dropping the wilderness canoeing and fishing subtitle from this blog. Though it was once true and a number of the entries are of those days, it's no longer an accurate description of my topics. To be sure, I still fish from a canoe and nearly all of my fishing is done in near wilderness locations. But it ain't the seat of the pants, no way out, forty miles from the nearest road kind of thing that it once was.
Eventually you catch up with your future. The end of my brief fling with the real boonies had to eventually arrive. And it did. It's just that I was a little slow in admitting it. Years ago I wrote that once in a while a person finds a hole in time to slip into and live an alternate life for a short while. But, it seems a lot of things have to line up just right for that to happen and I'm now permanently short a couple of those things. I'll leave it at that.
So what this has obviously evolved into is an Old Man Gets a Little Time at the Cabin Now and Then and Maybe Goes Fishing blog. Not what I want but it beats the pants off of an Old Man Watches the Golf Channel While Eating Pork Rinds and Dies from Prostate Cancer blog.
These days you can tell you're in the country by the number of dollar stores. None are in the town we call home. They're a self sufficient lot here and lean strongly toward home spun businesses. There's a drug store, flooring store, hardware, grocery, bakery, bowling alley, cafe and restaurant, liquor store, etc. There's even a newspaper. All in a town of nine hundred. Used to be three car dealerships, all of them American of course, but GM closed theirs during the Great Recession.
So when I needed to shop for a brand new, somewhat dated, and way marked down fishing hat I had to drive a ways. Last year I found one but it was marked four dollars. Made me want to step outside and recheck the name of the store. And sure enough, there in small print that I'd taken for bird droppings, with an asterisk up front, read the words "and up - even as high as four dollars." There I was, holding in my hands, the most expensive thing in the store. At the moment it's sitting on the table in front of me next to my fly tying vise.
But, what the hell it was a genuine - I knew it had to be genuine 'cause his name was on the hat in four places - Jeff Foxworthy, Living the Red Neck Life original. On the front is this stick man with a fishing rod who'd caught himself a tire. I suspected it to be an attempt at humor but seeing as how I was in a dollar store and Mr. Foxworthy has no problems making fun of the lower classes, it's just possible the stick man is pretty excited to have caught a free, slightly used but still serviceable, tire.
On top of that, the hat was made in China. Wasn't that long ago we thought of the Chinese as the Red Menace. Now we have to think of them as the Redneck Menace. Times change and I'm not sure if it's for the better.
Mainly I bought the hat 'cause it's sky blue. Don't want to scare off any fish unnecessarily so when they look up, they won't notice me because my head will blend in with the background. That's all well and good but the best part happens when I take it off. My thin white hair will make the fish think it's starting to cloud up, that maybe a front is moving in and they'd better start chowing down before the temperature drops and the bite will be on. May not seem like a real possibility to a normal fisherman but, as you can see, I'm not normal.
I almost gave a thought to fishing off the culvert exiting a small nearby lake that's lost its ice. Across the road from the lake lies a slough with a stream that sporadically meanders through. At the moment northern Minnesota is in flood and the slough is a shallow lake. Prime spawning ground. The water flowing into it through the culvert is roaring. If I was a fish I'd be hanging out to the side of the flow to see what kind of food might be shooting by. Like maybe a weighted streamer thrown by an ancient fiberglass fly rod in the hands of an old fart with time on his hands.
Like I said, almost. All I was lacking was the rod, reel, fly, and fishing license. And there were other things that needed doing that I didn't mind working on.
By the end of the day all was clean and I had an anally retentive smile on my face. Clean is good.
The toughest day. I had it all packed last night. All that needed to be done was emptying the refrigerator and a final loading of the car. On the drive home the ice was still on all the lakes I passed. Lower and blacker for sure but still on.