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Friday, November 24, 2006

A Blue Hole

I was able today to take advantage of what we in this part of the world call a "blue hole" -- a gap in the weather -- loaded up Little Eva, my seven-foot kayak, and sprinted for the reservoir.

I haven't been here in months, and, sure enough, there have been changes. Most of the ducks have moved on, to be replaced by about two thousand coots. The cormorants, whom I haven't seen for awhile, have returned and established themselves on the breakwater booms. The booms, meanwhile, have lost their moorings in the storms. Wakes and waves are crashing right in among the moored yachts. The owners don't come around much at this time of the year, and may not be aware this is happening; the marina isn't staffed.

Mr. and Mrs. Park Keeper are missing, as well -- and so is their trailer, which has been here for four years. They are frail people, and I hope nothing has happened to them. There are no cars in the parking lot, and no boats on the water. There is snow on some of the surrounding mountains. But the lake is reasonably calm, so I decide to have a go before the next storm can get at me.

The kayak, as I've said before, is a Micro Poke Boat, a bit stubby and wide for a kayak. In it, on the water, I mostly look like a turtle. But it's very stable and sturdy and offers some protection from wind. It fits in the back of a Saturn wagon. I can carry it down to the water in one hand, with all my gear already in it.

I snap together my paddle and shove off.

From old habit, I assemble a rod and tie on a nymph. It's the wrong time of year for nymphs; might do better towing a spinner. But I cruise around the water in dual purpose mode. If a trout bites, we may eat trout. If it doesn't, I've anyway had a good workout, with spectacular scenery.

Someone puts a runabout into the lake from the landing on the opposite shore, and drives off in a cloud of blue smoke.

Too much blue smoke.

Way too much blue smoke.

The boat coughs, and loses way, and the blue smoke turns brown. They're on fire.

This is a quandary. Since they are a mile away, and I'm in a tiny cockleshell that couldn't tow anything that size or take on passengers, I want to resist the impulse to go over. The most I could do is add to their embarrassment. They had better have an extinguisher; it's the law.

On the other hand, if they do lose control of the fire and have to go over the side, they'll need me. This water is extremely cold, and they are at least five hundred feet from shore. They could latch on to my stern loop and hopefully I could get them to the landing before they go numb.

I start paddling toward them.

They do have an extiguisher. The fire is put out, and after awhile the runabout begins limping home with awkward, but determined, paddle strokes.

And I get a good solid strike! I'd forgotten I have a line in the water, and it takes me a moment to re-focus.

The line has been run out into the backing, so it takes a while to strip in in. The fish is heavy, and not a jumper, but gives enough head-shakes in the deep that I know it's not a pikeminnow. Carefully maintaining line tension, I work the fish in to Little Eva's starboard, and, yes, it's a big holdover rainbow, almost two pounds.

The wind picks up and little whitecaps appear all around me. I check the western horizon. There's another storm coming in, almost on me. But it's been a perfect blue hole for me. Everyone's Thanksgiving wishes for me have paid off.

Thank you.


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