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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Letter Days - Time Capsules


Deep into the winter, teaser days always arrive to announce the approach of spring. Every season I anticipated its coming as I understood that upon its arrival, warm days of fishing awaited. I can remember almost every day I have spent casting a line. They became time capsules stored safely inside a vaulted memory waiting for an appointed moment to be reopened and examined for their contents.  


That first day of the season was treated with deliberate fanfare. The night before was the best as time was spent sorting through the cluttered tackle box arranging and re-arranging the lures according to size, then color, then back to size and color. New line spooled onto the fishing reel and a fresh drop of oil and reel grease was applied to the gears then worked in with a few spins of the handle. A few days before, another coat of varnish was applied to the wooden paddles and the canoe was staged ready to be loaded.

Sleep became a rare commodity leading up to that first outing of the season and when that first morning finally arrived I was up earlier than anticipated loading the canoe…testing the tie downs for tightness. Fishing rod and tackle box along with paddles and a snack were stowed.

The air is always better early before the sun comes up. On that first outing the cool air of late winter still lingered across morning, but early on the Oklahoma wind would remain subdued. Off loading the canoe retained its own sound and if I listen long enough today I can still hear its rumble as it slid off the canoe rack. That first moment when the paddle met the water marked the event as having finally arrived.
 


A few moments later, the bale of the spinning reel was opened with its distinctive clinck and that first cast was made with rusty technique…another clinck and the slow retrieval produced the most anticipated moment of the day. Sometimes that first cast would produce a strike and how fun that was to experience, but it didn’t matter if one the first cast or twenty or thirty later, for just being there is what counted most.

Many fishing trips began in such a way, all were unique and generated their own sense of moment, but a few stood out as true red-letter days. One such day occurred as Ralph and I managed to find time away from work on the same day and made the thirty minute drive to Old Beggs Lake. It was a bit later in the season well into the spring and the trees were by this time full with healthy green leaves and the air was warm but not hot. The Oklahoma wind more often than not would blow you off the water in a canoe, but on this morning it remained just gentle enough to cause a steady ripple to ride across the surface.

As we drifted along a grassy lined bank I tied on a yellow and green Rebel Minnow and started catching and releasing bass from ten to twelve inches long on a regular basis mixed with an occasional larger one. Ralph, a few weeks before had found hung in a tree limb a similar lure with the same color pattern and switched over. In short order we both began to get regular hits. We would drift to the end of the bank then paddle back up wind and start the process over and with each pass the bass would attack our lures. On one occasion Ralph cast a few inches too far and hung his lure on the edge of the grass at which he began to flip his rod trying to pull it loose. If I had not seen it happen I would not have believed it, but just as his lure came loose a good sized bass leaped out of the water and grabbed it in mid-air a few inches about the surface. Those are what time capsule moments are made of.

It was the best day for bass I’ve ever experienced. What made it even better is that it became one of those time capsule entries that defined a single day in an iconic way of life.

Time Capsule entries are more often than not, simple events that by themselves carry little significant impact at the time they happened. Collectively, they combine to become a greater measure of a person’s life. These are entries that often remain dormant for many years until something triggers their memory back to life.  I am continually amazed at how often the least significant of events grow in their importance through time…an annuity of memories in a way…one that compounds in value the longer they remain stored. They only become a reality if one chooses to pursue them in the first place as an often repeated word…an action…an aroma or sound…the feel of the wind, whatever their significance, they become automatically data-banked in the capsules of time.

 

Keith

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