Click here to Follow by Email

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Back in time

This weekend I took one of my last trips to Pickwick Lake for the year.  I might get one more trip in, but it’s fall and hunting season is starting so my fishing time is about to drop off.  I’m hoping this will be a good trip so we can end fishing season on a high note and then start chasing deer.
Our two day trip started off a bit worse than we had anticipated.  We had a rough afternoon on the water but with perseverance and a dose of tenacity we were able to pull six fish from the lake under some very difficult circumstances.  Our plan was to spend the night at the state park lodge and fish the next morning so we were looking forward to getting one more shot at the fish before we had to turn the truck toward town and drive back to reality.  
Now it’s dark, the boat is tied up, our gear is stowed and we are back in the room insulated from the cold and the wind.  It’s early November, it’s 48 degrees, and the wind has been blowing 20 MPH all afternoon.  My fishing buddy was getting some gear squared away, so I stepped out on the back deck to look at the lake.
A word about the lodge is in order here.  JP Coleman State Park is in Iuka, MS and it sits on what I believe is some of the best real estate on the entire lake.  The park is located on a bluff right where the mouth of Indian Creek meets the main lake.  On the main point they built a two story lodge with perhaps 24 rooms.  Each room has a deck that looks out to the lake.  Because it is fall there aren’t many people here.  The campers and skiers have all gone home and it’s a very quiet time here now.  In fact we were the only people in the lodge at present…we had virtually the entire park and the entire lake to ourselves…for the low, low price of only $70 a night. 
This was the situation as I stepped alone onto the deck after dark.  I turned off the TV, killed the lights and I stepped onto the back deck with the intention of just taking a look.  What happened next was a real shock.  When I shut the door behind me the first thing I noticed was the view.  It was nearly three hours since the sun had set, the moon was high, and I could see perhaps seven miles down the river.  Despite the fact that it was now night-time I could see bright light and sharp shadows on the ground…not the yellow, artificial, incandescent illumination from street lights.  This was the brightest silvery-whitish moonlight you could imagine…and it bathed the shores of three states as far as I could see.  Every bit of shore, every dark ridge-line above me, every greenish-black tree on every hillside was awash in this perfectly soft light.  It was bright enough that there were strong shadows on the ground from tall objects like buildings and trees.  Anyone who spends time outdoors knows that there are times when you need a ball cap to keep the moonlight from blinding you as you walk…tonight was one such night. 
From my perch on the deck I could see parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama.  I could see all the way back to the mouth of Bear Creek which the wind had made so difficult for us to reach earlier in the day.  The silence was so pure that it made me wish I had younger ears with which to hear it.  Over the years the sounds of guns and equipment and life in general have taken their toll…I now have a faint but constant ringing in my ears most nights as I drift off to sleep.  It’s not enough to destroy the moment but I do wish at times like these I could really hear the true sound of silence. 
When you look up at the night sky here there is nothing to keep you from seeing every star that God ever put there.  With no humidity or smog in the air there is nothing to distort the startlight.  Stars appear as sharp and crisp diamonds, lighting up against the inky blackness of the universe behind them.   It is almost breathtaking how gorgeous this scene is.  As your gaze returns earthward the brilliance of the stars descends to earths horizons and is then blocked out by high,dark, forested hills; which fall and roll and cascade down to the shores of Pickwick lake. 
The harmony created by darkness and silence is solitude.  And solitude is something sorely lacking in many lives today.  What started out as a quick and curious step onto the back porch has turned into a long, purposeful, relaxing sit.
As I looked out across that lake in this silvery moonlight a flood of memories began to come back to me.  Events that might otherwise have been long forgotten are coming back in crisp and vivid detail.  Half a mile away on the right side of the channel, right where that dark hill descends and juts out into the lake,  sits a point where I was learning how to use tube baits to catch smallmouth bass and I had a 10 pound drum take me for a wild ride on my third cast.  Just a few hundred yards in front of me, where the creek meets the main lake is the area where I took the family fishing one day and we just hammered catfish on a jug-line all afternoon on a sunny summer day.  This is amazing…I’m looking at a black patch of calm water in 48 degree weather in the middle of November…but what I’m seeing is a sunny August afternoon and a boat full of family, laughter, and flopping catfish. 
Further still down the right side of the river it begins to make a long, gentle, arching turn to the left.  Just about in the middle of this sweeping turn is a gravel bar where I caught my largest ever smallmouth bass one morning.  Again I can see it as if it was that very day and I’m watching from this deck as I catch that fish…I recall the cool foggy conditions as I left the marina, I can see the explosion as the fish tried to destroy a topwater popper, I remember the first glimpse I caught of those long dark vertical bands on his side and realizing it was a big smallmouth, and I can remember smiling as the family met me down at the dock to take some pictures and see what dad had caught.  This is like a redneck version of an out-of-body experience. 

Everywhere I look, as I peer through the quiet, cold, moonlit darkness; I see things from the past.  I see coves where my kids fly through the air on rope swings and lazily swim the day away.  I can see my family hiking on the hills above me.  I can hear their laughter coming from the cabins around the bend.  I can see and hear people catching fish from my boat.  This is the last thing I expected when I stepped out to catch a look at the river before hitting the rack.  Standing here on the banks of this lake, engulfed in solitude I get transported back in time and get to relive the best parts of it.  This is the essence of relaxation.   Everyone needs a place like this. 
When you step out onto the deck it might seem like you can see seven miles down the river from here…but if you slow down and really listen to what this place telling you…you can actually see back in time. 

No comments:

Post a Comment