Tuesday, October 28, 2014

South Holston Blues

The TVA did us a favor, sons of bitches, and released Holston Lake waters from first light to the witching hour each day. Had they not, we might have fished the tailrace all weekend. Instead, the gates were thrown open and, as happens too often, the brass floated high on their Clackas and Hydes while we fly fishing foot soldiers scrambled for shore.

So while the well-heeled slept in, awaiting their ten-o’clock launches, building their reserves so they might survive the long day sitting on their asses, high and dry, while staring at the fat Day-glo indicators drifting alongside their watercraft, we drove miles downstream under the cover of darkness and squeezed in a handful of hours searching for risers before the front edge of the too early flood tumbled upon us.

But the drifters didn't see the sun leak over the horizon; slanted rays arriving in luminous waves, breaching the east’s distant dam and washing silently into our hardscrabble riverbed through riffles of muted Fall colors. They didn’t feel the thick fog dampen their cheeks with moist, sloppy dog kisses or hear the quiet whispers of welcome from gentle runs hidden somewhere in the mists; didn’t rub sleep from their eyes with fleece-sheathed sleeves or shake the lingering effects of last night’s Kentucky with cool, deep breaths of this morning's Tennessee. They missed it all while they waited for their boats.

So thank you, TVA, for the impetus to be out there at that magical time. Thank you for putting us on the river before daybreak so we could appreciate those few golden hours that you left us. Thank you for the beauty, enhanced by the brevity. Thank you for the crumbs. They were delicious.

Sons of bitches.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Incredible Shrinking Room

Our living area is shrinking.

As Fall advances and winter approaches, the sun rides closer to the horizon and reaches deeper into our southern exposure. Each day it extends a just a smidge, give or take, and each day we inch the couch and lounging chairs closer to the center of the room, exposing more and more of our polished concrete floor. That four inches of dense heat sink soaks up the warm radiation and later, as darkness falls and the evening progresses, it gradually re-releases the gentle solar comfort back into the space.

The balance is immaculate. As the days grow more frigid, the sun reaches deeper into the room and heats more of the floor. The yin and yang of passive solar consumption. Come winter solstice, half the room will be given over to this process (as well as to the plants that come in from the cold) and our sitting area will be compressed into a cozy little jumble. There, we'll be conveniently squeezed closer to the other heat sources that we've come to appreciate here in this place...

...the firebox and one another.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On Reflection

I will forever be grateful to my wife, Mary, for teaching me (among many things) to not only look up, but to also look down; to appreciate the smaller wonders found at my feet. It’s especially true in the water where the most elegant of abstractions might await.

Fall’s colors are just beginning to arrive here in the South, but a hint of the riot to come can be seen in the reflections. Here, then, are a handful of shots, taken of nothing but water, captured yesterday by simply looking down.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Field

Withered stalks, golden and brittle
Rattle restlessly in the autumn breeze
Like skittering beetles or mice in the walls
Soft spectral voices on incessant breaths
Whisper to the recesses of my conceit
We’re here

What hides from the light in the deepest of rows?
What watches at night from the edge?
What waits for me, waits for me, to come see for myself?
To come be a part of the field

I’ll know soon enough for the harvest approaches
The ears hang low in their submission to time
And what waits in the rows doesn’t vex me as much
As it did when the sun rode high

So I’ll listen to the rattles, the beetles and mice
Pay heed to the voices on whispering winds
And fear not the edge where the darkness invites me
To come be a part of the field