Archive for the ‘Lake Gaston Area’ Category

The other day while sitting on the dock just after sunrise, I heard and then saw a bass boat stepping down off its plane way up at the mouth of my cove. After a while the boat trolled into view around a weedy point. Sitting in the rear seat was a young girl, maybe six or seven years old. She was so small that her pink tennis shoes dangled a foot above the carpeted platform of the boat. While dad manipulated the trolling motor and cast his lure into the edges of the weeds, the little girl was carefully watching him and casting her own lure in and out of tight areas of cover.

She was quite good at it.

I remember how excited I always became when Grandpa announced he’d be taking me fishing on the following day, and I recall how those long hours leading up to a sunrise fishing trip dragged on and on forever just like Christmas Eve. As I watched the young girl casting out her spinner bait and retrieving it slowly, I felt a connection to something infinitely pure, and for the briefest glimmer of time I was allowed to experience a gift: sharing the exact same thrill the young girl had surely felt when dad plopped her down in the boat and headed out into a day that would be profoundly remembered by the grown-up girl years later when she headed out with her own child for a glorious day of fishing with mom.

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Note: because my friend, Rich knows how much I enjoy fishing, and because he remembers the Little Girl Fishing story of mine from more than a decade ago, he sent me this outstanding viral video link: Little Girl Catches Bass on a Barbie Fishing Pole is what fishing is all about.

Thank you, Rich, and thank you Grandpa.

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Mornings are something special at Lake Gaston when nighttime temperatures drop below the lake’s surface temperature; where cool of fall meets  warmth of summer, fog happens. The period of time just before the fog moves on is transformational: in a matter of minutes visibility can increase from zero to hundreds of yards, a dawning of distance and acuity, reality and rebirth.

Carl Sandburg got it right in his poem, “The Fog”…

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

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First Weather Satellite Photo

First Weather Satellite Photo

Fifty years ago, in 1960, I recall the world’s first satellite weather photographs hitting the prime-time news. They revealed a grainy, black and white band of thin clouds shrouding the eastern coast of the United States. There was some detail thrown in there, a mountain ridge or maybe a shoreline?

But most of all, I remember the television interviews afterwards, the ones with incredulous scientists from all over the world discussing the images. Many of these people — like the viewers — were just beginning to grasp the implications of what the new technology they were witnessing could offer the world of the near future: advanced storm tracking, air traffic control, hurricane warnings, crop forecasting, military shenanigans, on and on and on.

Pretty heady stuff.

Long before the satellites came, I remember Grandpa Brandt stepping out the back porch screen door every morning, placing his hands on his hips and gazing along the horizon line and the tips of the trees, testing the Indiana weather. It was a routine he performed every morning. Sometimes he would wet a finger and hold it up to a breeze. Other times he’d lick his lips as if tasting something, or pick up a handful of dirt and crush it between his fingers, feeling the texture as it fell away. “Rain by noon. After that, it will be a hot one.” Done deal: the day’s weather forecast had been proclaimed.

This is NowThis morning, a friend called and suggested I flick on my computer and check the weather; that he had just had 5 inches of rain dumped in his driveway and it was heading my way. Within seconds I called up WunderMap, where I spent about 20 minutes cycling through the video loop options. Never once did I consider the technology I was using.

After a while, I stepped out on my patio, placed my hands on my hips and gazed along the horizon line and the tips of the trees. “Rain by noon. After that, it will be a hot one.”

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Tim says: as I was getting ready to publish today’s article, I noticed the advertisement in the lower right corner of the WonderMap screen capture. I wonder what Grampa would have to say about all those hot cuties in the right hand corner vying for my attention?

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100 YEARS_CanadaGeese_600w

I’ve been taking pictures of Lake Gaston since 1982 when Mom and Dad purchased a small lake-house. Through the years I have built up relationships with a few vendors who sell my pictures and posters and paintings and greeting cards and postcards. (I will never get rich but I enjoy the work and the occasional infusion of pocket change.) During those same years I witnessed the inevitable trend of people switching to email over all other forms of preferred communication methods; in no time purchases of my postcards and greeting cards dropped to ZERO. I am now considering wallpapering my basement with the 23,000 some-odd unmarketable postcards I have in storage.

No wonder the U.S. Postal Service is going bankrupt.

While chatting with one of my vendor/owners yesterday, it was suggested that I do something special for Lake Gaston’s upcoming milestone birthday. So I tinkered and twiddled for hours with the above 8 1/2 x 11 inch Photoshop image, eventually printing 10 of them on exceptional acid-free paper and painstakingly inserting them into modest picture frames. (Nothing fancy, but the pictures will certainly outlive me.)

Framing photographs or artwork is a nightmare. Little speck-thingies and other sorts of fingerprint-thingies that weren’t there moments before, mysteriously show up under the glass as if you had performed the framing dance while sitting in a dandelion field on a windy spring day. When the pictures were nestled cleanly under glass, I was off to sell my wares.

My first visit was to some friends of mine who own a local Mom & Pop sign shop, for whom I do occasional freelance graphic artist work. I showed them one of my framed Lake Gaston Birthday photographs — was that a little speck-thingy hiding in the corner? — and asked, “Do you think they will sell?”

“Yes, they will sell nicely.” A strange kind of silence followed. “Fifty years from now…”

I lost interest in the speck-thingies and drove home. Lake Gaston was celebrating its 50 year birthday, not its 100th. Sigh.  Just another senior moment kind of day.

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As I sat in my vehicle at 7:30 AM letting the engine warm up, my hands began to freeze on the steering wheel. Little by little, the defroster overcame the frozen patches of frost on the windshield; my seat warmer began to heat my butt up to driving temperature. It was December 14 and I was beginning my Lamb Quest.

Flaps down. Vehicle trim. Power on. Move from “P“ark to “D“rive.

“Ensign Crusher — engage!

And there I was, walking into my grocery store, eyes straight ahead, la-la-lalling down the coffee aisle, headed straight for the meat coolers where all those day-before-expiration-date-price-reduced legs of lambs were waiting. Man, oh, man, I was psyched. Five of them! I grabbed the first one.

The red REDUCED FOR QUICK SALE price label was missing! I pushed up my trifocals, focusing on the label. The leg of lamb was so close to my face I could smell sheep lanolin and hear the bleating, “Bahhhh, bahhhh, BAH.” But it was not a lamb bleating I heard. It was a MOAN coming from — me. “Last sale Date: December 15.”

I was a day early.

Miserable and dejected, I clutched the steering wheel and began to drive home. The rain changed to snow.

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Hog's Head Cheese

Today’s FRIDAY FOOD THING was going to be a leap of faith for me: a review of something I have never had before. Something I’ve been afraid to try. A Southern something called Souse. Something that’s often called Hogs Head Cheese. Souse sounds better, but it was not meant to be. When I got home from the grocery store, a bottle of wine and my package of souse was nowhere to be found. The only thing I can figure is the grocery store bagger must have put the wine and the souse on the bottom shelf of my shopping cart, where I neglected to look. The wine and the package of souse is probably still sitting in the parking lot cart caddy.

Well, the package of souse probably is…

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Tim Says: Oh, oh. The ball’s a rolling. I just called a local butcher shop and can purchase a hog’s head for $8 plus tax. Sounds cheap to me! I asked if they could cut my head in half for me. They laughed. “I meant the hogs head!” “No!” they said. “That would tear up our saw.” I made a mental note. Haven’t stepped off the cliff yet. But now I know the cliff is there if I decide to leap.

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For the past few days I have baited my minnow trap with stale slices of bread and thrown the contraption out into the shallows near my boat dock. Curious minnows and tiny sunfish soon gather around and eventually find their way through the one-way doors to feast on the goodies within. But hours later, upon checking the trap, I have noticed the trap has been mysteriously opened, devoid of both bread or minnows.

Years ago lake otters would have been the obvious culprits, swimming by in their charming manner, fooling us into laughing at their antics, later backtracking when we weren’t looking, to peel fresh fish from our stringers or shiners from our bait boxes, chuckling to themselves as they laid on their backs, in plain sight, nibbling on what they had stolen.

But, sadly, I haven’t seen otters in my cove for many years.

This morning I noticed a lone grebe paddling around the end of the dock. A grebe is kind of like a duck, except (some of them) are dark and have white bills with myriad shades of glowing neon eyes. Grebes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. All grebes are exceptional swimmers and, like penguins, can dive underwater and travel great distances. And like otters, I discovered, they can open minnow traps and gobble down anything that’s inside.

So now when I toss out a baited minnow trap I also toss a few pieces of bread off the other end of the dock. The grebe pays me no mind, dives ungraciously underwater. A minute later a chunk of damp Wonder bread is yanked below the surface, and when I leave the dock to grab a bite to eat and return later, my minnow trap is empty all over again.

I’m sure this love-hate relationship will flourish, and we will become great friends. Who knows, maybe one day we can share a box of crackers and a can of sardines.

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