Friday, September 26, 2008


Just a few days of squirrel season remained. The ground had been frozen for quite some time now. The firewood stacks were nearly gone. Ashes removed from the wood stove were begining to accumulate where they had been spread out on the garden plot. Soon it would be time to roto till the ashes back into the soil to improve the garden.The winter had been an especially long and hard one. The long cold winter nights had seemed to just drag on . . and on. Ice storms had caused much downed timber and the roads had washed out regularly. He waved at the mail carrier as he passed by the mail box. Nothing today. The only other vehicle to travel the road that day had been the rattling old school bus early that morning, about daylight. The letter carrier’s pickup truck was covered with mud and it was taking him nearly forty five minutes longer to run his route this time of the year.BRrrr, he thought, “time to go in and warm up, i’ll check email, maybe there will be news there.” “The Mena Star won’t be delivered until tomorrow.”Sipping gingerly on a too hot cup of coffee, he watched as the computer booted up. He was thinking, “man my boot time is way too long, i’ve got to clear out some of this stuff”, when it happened. The ICQ messaging system had loaded and a friend in Mena had seen him come on line. The friend had sent a one word message. “LAKE”.It was their habit to spend a week at lake Greeson early in the Spring of the year. That week was when they would catch enough fish to last most of the year. Cool nights and mild days at the lake sounded so glorious right now ! It was obvious that his friend was feeling the effects of the hard winter also.Grinning to himself he sent a one word message back, LAKE. All bold, all capitol letters, LAKE. That one word message held the emotional meaning of “come on Spring, I’m ready for some milder weather.”They had been sending LAKE back and forth for days now as they planned their annual pilgrimage to lake Greeson.It was somehow more than just fishing, it was marvelous sunrises and magnificent sunsets. It was fresh caught catfish, hushpuppies and home fries for lunch, followed by large cold glasses of iced tea. It was cruising the lake to revisit familiar places such as chimney rock. It was chasing a large catfish that was towing a fishing jug faster than the trolling motor could go. It was playing dominoes in the evenings under the stars with good friends. It was having friends and kinfolks come to visit the camp and having a big fishfry to celebrate their success and the arrival of Spring. Aahh, you could just nearly smell the hushpuppies cooking now !But the main thing it was . . ., it was weeks away, and the waiting was tough.The next message was, “got your jugs ready ?”. Answer, “Still working on them, I am replacing line and setting the depth for thermocline depth.” Thermocline, a term not often used by fishermen. Both were certified SCUBA divers and understood the importance of the giant temperature change at thermocline, and what it meant to the fish in the lake. In the Summer both used SCUBA gear to spearfish under water terain structures.Both men had a military background and had previously been divers, both had renewed their dive skills with civilian classes.They understood the relationship between thermocline, structure and fish, they used that knowledge in jug fishing.Response, “got mine finished, you’re going to have to get busy !” Answer, “yeh, I know, I have been replacing the bank sinkers with egg sinkers to reduce tangling when fighting a good fish. I did go to town and renew the boat and trailer registration though.”“We have a new domino game called chicken train.” “Never heard of it, how is it played ?”And so on, and so on. They were clearly ready for Winter to be over so they could go to the LAKE.“You get the AGFC news letter ?” “Yeh, there was a good article about fish shelters they were installing with the Corps of Engineers.”“We got our small freezer loaded on the utility trailer and checked the screen tent to make sure it is ready.”“Sounds like we are just about ready !”As the small talk gradually dwindled down, they both signed off with the single word. “LAKE”, it wouldn’t be long now.

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