Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In Phase


I wait for the full moon to get high overhead and light up the pond like a Wal-Mart parking lot.

It doesn’t cooperate.

Midnight. One-o’clock. Two. I wait. But it plays it cagey, hugs the tree line, spotlighting occasionally through gaps between the massive oaks, poplars, and hickories that ring this watery basin. Mostly, it lies low, completely hidden behind the dense summer canopy, poorly lighting my way only obliquely, reflecting off the thin clouds that drift dreamily across this deep hole in the forest. I might have known that it wouldn’t rise to a zenith, but, in my defense, it’s not every night I’m up at three to see, let alone observe it from a wet float tube seat, mid-pond.


John Gierach recently wrote, “The line between having a little adventure and making a mistake can be a thin one." But heat often makes fishermen do odd things and a string of triple-digit days can blur that adventure/mistake distinction like the shimmer of summer heat obscures the horizon of oncoming asphalt. Floating my local bass pond is nothing new. Doing it on the skinny side of midnight, perhaps a little adventurous. Doing it alone…

The quote teases from the back of my brain for a bit but then recedes, taking with it all thoughts of things existing beyond the meager reach of my aging night vision. I methodically kick my way around the dark edge of the eight-acre pond. Casting visibility approaches nil, so I strip thirty feet of fly line and attempt to maintain a similar buffer from the shore. I don’t always see where it lands, but if I keep my distances right, it’s in the zone. I’m moderately successful, having only to retrieve my popper from shoreline entanglements a handful of times. A few bass notice.


The silence is deafening - silence, that is, when silence is defined as the absence of the ragged din of man. Peepers of every pitch voice their joy, bullfrogs glug happily, and barred owls query insistently, demanding to know who has trespassed into their dark realm. No light is visible beyond that provided by the finicky moon, except for the occasional flash of fireflies at water’s edge – fanciful lighting that does little for the eyes but illuminates the soul magnificently.

The human world huddles inside, sleeps, awaiting the daylight to emerge again. My fellow man lies deep in the trough of his daily cycle. I am disconnected, alone, out of phase. Out of phase, that is, with man, but in perfect harmony with this place, in locked-step-synch with this lunar cycle, riding the peaked sine wave of this time.

It’s three in the morning and I am alive.

I am in phase.


14 comments:

Jay said...

Awesome post. That's my kind of adventure. The line between adventure and mistake may be thin, but I think the only adventure you regret is the one you don't go after. My favorite post of yours to date.

Kevin Frank said...

Awesome dude, I just got a float tube. I can't wait to to test it out. I doubt I'll be doing it at 3am though.

e.m.b. said...

"...silence, that is, when silence is defined as the absence of the ragged din of man. " Spot on. I've always marveled at how the quietness of nature the uninitiated always speak about, is really quite loud once you get down to paying attention. Beautiful piece, Mike...a beautiful piece.

gb said...

What an adventure -- thanks for sharing. I especially like the pictures.

CathyB said...

Very nicely done, Mike.

You do know, don't you that copperheads and other snakes tend to be active that time of night this time of year, right? Of course you do, you adventurer you. ;)

Mike Sepelak said...

You're absolutely right, Jay. You've simply got to put it out there sometimes. Gives life a little spice.

Thanks, Kevin. Enjoy the float tube!

Living where you and I do, Erin, we get to appreciate a natural silence. It's complexity is amazing. I appreciate the backup on this one. :-)

I struggled to illustrate dark, Greg, so your comment is much appreciated. It's not easy taking a picture of pitch black.

Snakes? You mean there are snakes out at night!? I thought they slept like people did. :-) I kept an eye out as best I could, Cathy, and didn't see a one, but that certainly doesn't mean they weren't there. I bet your garden holds its fair share too.

Johnny Brimstone said...

Mike, Sounds fun.. reading this reminds me of the days when I ran a trot line on the river in south Texas in the wee hours. The feeling of pulling that line out of the water in the dark not knowing what was lurking below. Alligator gar, water moccasins, big turtles. The occasional campfire of migrating illegals really made it feel like the wild west...

Chris said...

Hi Mike, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

Mike Sepelak said...

Welcome, Chris!

Mike Sepelak said...

Johnny, there's something about the dark that lends itself to adventure. The crap shoot that is a river trot line would make a great story in itself. THANKS!

Mat Trevors said...

Very cool post. Love that Gierach line!

Side note: I took my gf camping for her very first time last night. I hadn't seen so many fireflies in probably 25-30 years. It was amazing!

Then we had an epic lightning storm with torrential rain. The tent held up & she seemed to love camping. Lots of ticks in the win column!

I need a bass pond...

Mike Sepelak said...

She sounds like a keeper, Mat, but don't say I said so. And as long as the ticks are in the win column and not crawling up your legs, you're okay.

Thanks for saying hello.

Oh, and bass ponds rock!

Joseph Hord said...

Sounds like quite an adventure! I've never done any night fly fishing, but now you've got me thinking I might have to give it a try.

Mike Sepelak said...

It's definitely worth doing, Joseph. It's a completely different experience, especially if you can get away from any man-made light pollution.