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Friday, September 12, 2014

Lower Upper Potomac

To me, the entire nontidal Potomac is the Upper Potomac because I'm generally fishing for smallmouth bass, but I guess I should distinguish between the waters near DC from the more western sections.  Today, I fished near Lock #8 on the C&O canal, and the above scene shows how scenic this section is even though it is anything but remote.   For example, facing upriver from the same location, the Beltway is clearly visible in the photo below, and that infamous road was in fact in view for almost the entire time I waded.

It was a beautiful day although the fishing was a little slow.  I did manage two smallmouths and a feisty bluegill in the three hours on the water.  Two were caught on a surface slider and one on a B&B.  Water level was 2.9 at Little Falls.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Ravens game

Hadn't been to a pro football game in many years and in recent years have transferred my allegiance from Washington to Baltimore.  Got sunburned and the Ravens lost but still happy I went with Stan.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ocean and the Passage of Time

During my walk this morning, I thought about what I wrote Sunday about last week at the beach and speculated that there is something about the shore that is conducive to reminiscing. 

The two beach houses pictured were not the only ones that our family once vacationed in that I made a point of walking by, and when I did I thought back about those past visits.  Stores in Bethany Beach also bring back memories of the past 27 years of vacations there.  When I'm near Rhodes 5 and 10, for example, I find myself remembering being in that store when the kids were small and were allowed to pick out toys to play with at the beach.  During my normal routine at home I seldom have those kind of thoughts.

This reminiscing is not just the case of an old man looking back because there is more to his past than to his future.  On one of our first beach vacations, I walked through the town at night and thought back about the summer I spent on the Jersey Shore 20 years before, and I was barely 40 when I was doing that reminiscing.  No, I think there is something about the ocean that summons up such images.

Maybe it's the steady pounding of the surf like the ticking of a clock that make us think of the passage of time.  Also, there is the movement of the sun.  During a typical day at the beach, I set up the umbrella in mid-morning and find myself moving my beach chair to stay in its shade as it moves as the day goes on.  I'm like a human sundial.  In writing about the importance of rhythms last Fall (, I mentioned that during beach visits I try to get into the rhythms of the tidal changes.  The pounding of the surf against the beach and the rise and fall of the tides- they both mark time.  Maybe these rhythms click in our minds and make us think of times past.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bethany week

Early in the week my feet display a distinct tanning pattern brought about by wearing Teva sandals all summer.  During the week I wore flip-flops or went barefoot, so the pale parts of my feet got a little burned.

The City of Bethany Beach has made a park at the end of the loop canal.

About 25 years ago, we stayed at this house on the canal.  Although I enjoyed being able to crab from the dock and watch the wildlife on the canal, we were further from the beach than normal which made it a little inconvenient with small children.

This was our house this summer which we rented once before, about 12 years ago.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Out in the Bay

Took a break from smallmouth bass fishing on rivers to accept an invitation from my friend Greg to go out on his 17 foot Boston Whaler yesterday.  He caught a couple of small perch and a couple of small rockfish on light spinning tackle while I used an 8 weight fly rod and caught a small bluefish.  He was disappointed with our results, but I had a good time.  Though too small to keep, the bluefish fought well and jumped.  I love it when fish jump.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to the Upper Potomac

Good fishing yesterday at the Mouth of the Monocacy.  Waded along this gravel bar in the morning and caught three smallmouths on a green surface popper.

In the quiet water at the end of the bar, I caught four bream.  It took somewhat over an hour to cover that stretch of water, and I then walked back to the kayak, ate lunch, and took pictures.  It's a good summer for the hibiscus which grow along this shoreline:

After the break, I resumed fishing for a brief period and caught another smallmouth on a chartreuse bullet-head darter and then called it quits.  Had a nice talk at the boat ramp with a guy about my age who hunts ducks in these waters.  River level was 1.4 at Point of Rocks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hemingway and Faulkner as Hunters

Both Nobel Prize-winning writers, their lifetimes spanned almost exactly the same years.  Their writing styles were dramatically different, but the outdoors figured prominently in their lives and in their writing.  Hemingway wrote about both hunting and fishing whereas Faulkner, to my knowledge at least, mentioned fishing only in passing, but the two activities are essentially the same with different quarry and usually with different tools.

Hemingway was a world traveler, and much of his writing about hunting takes place in Africa.  In his short stories and in The Green Hills of Africa he is often very precise about the specific gun calibers and bullets used.  The locales of his fishing stories span from Michigan to Spain and to Cuba and are similarly detailed about equipment and technique.  Faulkner focused on his home area in northwest Mississippi, and although very descriptive of the terrain and the hunt he gave only a general description of the gun, letting the reader know not much more than whether it was a rifle or shotgun.

Pursuit of fish or game heightens senses:  sight, sound, and smell.  In social situations, Faulkner quietly watched and listened.  Hemingway was quoted as saying he disliked cigarette smoking because as a hunter he was sensitive to the disagreeable smell.

Hunting and fishing have not been necessities for most people in the world for some time, and those of us who are drawn to these activities often ponder what it is about them which entices us.  This pondering leads some to questioning about humans' place in nature and how other human activities might reflect these very basic urges.  For me, in very different ways both Hemingway's and Faulkner's writings display these questions.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A favorite spot disappoints

I've been haunted by a large smallmouth I hooked last fall and eventually lost after it got loose after a few jumps.  The spot on the upper Monocacy has done well for me, and I've found it to be a pleasant place to wade.  Yesterday, however, it was disappointing.

The water was higher than I was used to from previous visits (2.0 at Frederick and 2.1 at Bridgeport) probably because I usually fish there later in the season, and wading was a little trickier.  Despite trying a variety of flies I caught no bass, but about a half dozen bream and a fallfish saved the outing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trying for smallmouth bass

Like last year, the first part of summer has been wet and river levels correspondingly high.  Nevertheless, although the upper Potomac has been low enough to wade my favorite spots for a week or so, I hadn't gotten up there until today when I drove to Nolands Ferry.

It was good to be catching large bluegills in the morning because I hadn't seen any that big for a while in those waters.  They put quite a bend in the seven weight fly rod, and I would have been satisfied with that although I was really looking for smallmouths.  When eating lunch on a gravel bar, I noticed some surface activity and paddled a little further upriver where I put on a surface slider which had not been effective earlier.

 Bingo, I got a hit and when it immediately jumped I knew it was a smallmouth.  It turned out to be a typical Potomac bass, about foot long and healthy-looking and feisty.   While floating back to the ramp I spotted some larger ones which I'll remember for the next visit.  Water level was 1.5 at Point of Rocks.

My updated list of species caught this year is as follows:

Blue catfish
Striped bass
Brown trout
Rainbow trout
Largemouth bass
Hickory shad
Smallmouth bass

Friday, July 25, 2014

My view from the canoe

But it's a nice one.  What Pam looked like to me while canoeing today at Triadelphia Lake.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mid/Early Summer

From front porch:

Side yard:

Back yard:

Faulkner and Race Relations

Like many readers, I don't find William Faulkner's novels easy-going.  The pace is slow, the sentences long, and the action tends to meander along.  However, during the spring semester at the University of Maryland,  I sat in one day on an English course that featured a student presentation on his last novel, The Reivers, and decided to read it.  I enjoyed the book very much, and it caused me to think about Faulkner's attitude about race.

In general William Faulkner was a white southerner of his time.  In the three or four of his novels I've read, African-American characters appear often, but they tend to behave in accordance with the accepted mores of the Deep South in the first half of the 20th century.  I don't believe Faulkner ever politically challenged these practices, but I do think he saw black Mississippians as individuals. 

In The Reivers, Faulkner portrayed his black characters as he does his white characters in that some were smart, others not, some were honest while others deceitful, and some were kind, and others less so.  One character in particular, Ned, is generally the smartest guy in the room in his scenes although he is generally careful in showing off his intelligence around whites.  The most despicable characters are white, and they often display their meanness and dishonesty in their interactions with the black characters.  In these choices he made about characters and action, I believe Faulkner was communicating something about his attitude about black people.  At the time The Reivers was published in 1962, the first signs of change regarding race relations in America were taking place.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott was six years earlier, and the Greensboro sit-ins began two years earlier.  Faulkner had to have been conscious of these occurrences and how they would effect what was sometimes called the southern way of life.

The Reivers is primarily a coming-of-age story, and the main character, an 11 year-old boy, at one point reflects on his growing anger as he becomes aware of how people act in the world.  Among the targets of this anger are "white people behaving exactly as white people bragged that only Negroes behaved."  Since Faulkner died the year The Reivers was published, I choose to think that at the end of his life this is what Faulkner thought.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Today I smoked the fish that were caught yesterday.

Also noticed that Buzz's Marina posted a picture of the entire group, so I may as well include it here to include my sun-burned mug.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Today's fishing partners

Col. Ski seated on the right, and his old friend Derek in the orange shirt on the left.  Our mutual friend Greg in the middle and Capt. Pete at the helm with his back to the camera.

Ski and Derek with some of the many bluefish we caught today.  I caught  the fewest, but someone had to have that dubious distinction.  I had a good time anyway and had fresh bluefish for dinner tonight.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Visiting an ailing friend

Yesterday I visited a friend who recently transferred from a hospital to a nursing home until he is ready for a major operation.  The friend is exactly my age, and I have been musing that such visits to others, or others' visits to me, will become increasingly common as I grow older.  We're at that stage.

Monday, June 30, 2014

There's never a sure thing in fishing...

Two recent trips I've taken with people with extensive local knowledge illustrate this.

Yesterday, friend Lou and I went with Capt. Mike to Mattawoman Creek off the Potomac, a strikingly beautiful area 20 miles downriver from DC.  Capt. Mike is a great guide who seems to know every inch of these fishing grounds, and yet all our efforts produced only one small largemouth bass.  That's the way it is sometimes.

A few weeks before, I met another friend, Greg, at 5:30 am in the parking lot of his boat's marina.  He pulled his truck next to me, lowered the window and told me that a storm was heading to our location on the Chesapeake.  Like Capt. Mike, he knows his area well and times his trips for just the right tide and wind conditions.  We waited out the storm at the marina and at his home a few blocks away, but when the storm passed and the sun came out a few hours later all the conditions were wrong.  Nevertheless, we tried, and, as we anticipated, we caught nothing.  Still, we had a nice time watching the rain and lightning at the marina, putting together a piece of furniture he recently bought for his video system, and then having lunch at his favorite neighborhood pub.

Thanks to Lou for the above picture on Capt. Mike's boat.  That's a good angle for me even though there appears to be metal handlebars growing out of my head. (Actually it's part of the front casting platform.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

The House in Gormania

Pam's grandfather was living in this house when I first visited it about 35 years ago.  The house is located in a small West Virginia town and has stayed in the family with  sister-in-law Kathy and her husband Bernie currently owning it.

When I first entered the house, I was struck by the hand painted artwork of Disney cartoon characters on the dining room wall because I had seen a similar scene long ago.  In the 1950's my Uncle Steve and his family lived in an old house on the outskirts of a tiny town in Upstate New York, and the kitchen wall also contained pictures from the Disney cartoon feature, Bambi

My guess is that these paintings were done in the 1940's because the movie was released in 1942.  I don't know if an itinerant artist specializing in these paintings roved small town America in those years, or if kits were sold providing instructions for home-owners to paint them themselves.  To me the pictures have always symbolized a link between my family and my wife's.

Friday, June 13, 2014

South River Boat Ride

Neighbors Paul and Marianne like to water ski which I've done only a couple of times in my life and not in 50 years, but I enjoyed the boat ride and watching them.

To make certain all systems were ok, Paul took the first turn while Marianne drove the boat.

She then went out on the skis.  By this time the skies got dark as a storm moved in.

 When it began to thunder, lightning, and rain, we raced back to the dock and pulled the boat.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Georgetown street scenes

Enough of the flowers.

To me, this worn sign looks like it was originally for a movie theater.  Pam says she doesn't remember one on that side of Wisconsin Avenue.  It seems to me that I do, but I don't trust my memory for things like that.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Japanese Dogwoods

I wasn't satisfied that yesterday's pictures sufficiently brought out the flowering trees in front, so I took another picture this evening.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gardens at the University of Maryland

I don't remember the name of this park, but it may well be my favorite.

As opposed to the above which is a little out of the way, this statue is in the heart of campus:

This shady rock garden is known as Woods Hall Garden:
I'm very fond of the Chapel Garden:


The next three are outside the Rossborough Inn, the oldest building on campus.

This final shot is near the Armory:

...and there are many other gardens on campus.  The landscaping crew does a nice job.