Saturday, September 16, 2017

Memory Depends on Sense


I wouldn't expect a sunrise photo like this, not from Round Valley, but I had hoped to greet the sun there tomorrow morning. Since showers are forecast, I have to wait. The post on Lake Hopatcong I snuck this photo from features my son in another, and that made me miss him all the more, away in Boston for studies at Boston University.

I wonder if Fred fished Round Valley this morning. Haven't heard yet, and I would have phoned him back yesterday to go with him, but had an early lunch at Butler's Panty in Far Hills with my wife this morning. I'm certainly willing to go soon.

That's the idea. Today at work, I realized I couldn't remember the drive to and from the restaurant where we both ate BLT sandwiches. Memory depends on sense. With this idea, I felt all the more reason to get out at dawn and photograph sunrise. Whenever I get over there and do this, it will be the first time I've seen sun rise on the reservoir, but I doubt very much it will be the last.

One consideration. I'm not exactly sure how to make my approach with the camera. I'm thinking: cross the dike, get in position just behind that big tongue of sand. That might work. But I will either find confirmation that it does, or get another, better idea for next time. It takes some repeated doing to get a collection of shots to pick and choose fewer favored.   

Friday, September 15, 2017

True to Last Night's Plan


True to last night's plan, I arrived at Round Valley Reservoir about 10:00 a.m. I began near the main launch, feeling torpid and slow. I was out of touch with the gravel at my feet, wearing hiking boots as is my habit, but not feeling my usual pleasure in contact with the hard stuff. The rest of me was out of bearing with my usual fitness. Well aware that my state posed a question, that question involved--as it still does writing at present--more than the effort to place further casts when a common sensibility would have me quit.

I cast, set my rod down, got on my haunches, lay back, and just as I was about to clasp the back of my head with my hands to relax, got a phone call from Fred. He wasn't sure if I was going fishing today or tomorrow, and if tomorrow, wanted to fish with me. We will. Soon.

That question I mentioned. I don't believe I'm all washed up at age 56. My fitness remains in form. My legs look like a strong teenagers'. I'm under 200 pounds. My arms are strong.

On the phone, Fred reminded me that the main entry is open after Labor Day. I know that. Knew that before he phoned. Is it Alzheimer's? I don't believe that for a minute.

Through the main entry is where Fred had fished. So I drove over, made the walk to the left and outward, and, yes, my state improved somewhat, but still wasn't right. I had three pick ups from small fish. Maybe rock bass, I don't know.

I felt kind of dizzy while considering that it took me years to achieve the fitness and abundance I enjoyed here at the Valley for a number of years. Because--it only seemed--I might have to begin with scratch to get healthy again. I think there's plenty asleep in me right now and all is not lost.


Sadie noses here and there but stays in earshot. It is true that here she once got far ahead of me, and I feared she was lost in the woods, but I rounded a corner and there she stood staring at me.

Water Plans

Looking ahead to tomorrow. Plan on fishing Round Valley Reservoir for bass from shore, thanks to Fred Matero, who wrote me recently about hooking a big one. I've got my sunglasses ready. Look for those deeper spots in view. Lenny might ham it up over his best friend's name mentioned once again, but Fred gets some credit on this one, as I wouldn't have thought to do this without his recent initiative. I was thinking, instead, of casting metals for rainbow trout soon. This would have to wait at least a week, maybe two.

By the time this writing posts, it will be just after midnight. I'm doodling with words. Recently, I noted an interruption affecting the quality of what I write. Got over that pretty well in the previous post.

You never know how these outings turn out. I re-read some of my Lehigh River post minutes ago. It speaks of expecting no more than some good photos, but what do you know; I came upon fish. "...we never know until we have completed a full effort."

That said, nothing's more important than the mind at work in planning. If you're going somewhere. My father was always meticulous at planning and still functions this way at 82. He's away at Notre Dame University as I write, still active and vital. I enjoyed alcoholism during my teens, but this never swayed me from planning the events of my life. One of my favorite activities at school was planning a week ahead in the privacy of my mind.

I've always felt my father's too constrained by his plans, but I never quite make the mistake of judging him adversely on this. After all, he's the man who just completed a great trip in Europe last week, and I'm the guy working in a supermarket. But I know how to improvise upon a plan so something great is achieved, rather than sticking compulsively to a preconception.

This is what I always want coming away from an outing. A feeling of grandeur that isn't vacuous and loose as if filled only with spirit--or hot air. Fisherman feel familiar with water. And if my statistic is correct, about 98% of the human body is made of water. This is a substance--H2O--perhaps more earthy and human than any other.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Black River


Black River photo shoot's been in mind for about a month. I need a photo for a magazine piece I hope to pitch; no guarantee, of course, that the editor will run with the idea. I got down riverside among boulders, cool water in my boots, set up my tripod, got out my D7100 with the Tokina wide angle, and began attempting to mount that camera. Aha. The tripod mount needs work. I placed the camera safely aside and found there's a Phillip's head screw underneath, so I may be able to fix this myself, and if not, I know a place in Morristown that might do the work. 

Managed to get a shot that might work for the magazine, just in case I don't get back up to Chester to shoot fast water at narrow aperture, thus creating that blurred water effect that looks cool. Otherwise, the photo above captures an angle, and the photo below I shot straight down as I stumbled for a moment, never really threatened with falling off the edge of that rock.

It's a day off work. I had gone out for a smoke on our porch, looked to the sun, and had known instantly this is no day to waste. At the time, I was into reading the second of two O'Henry short stories, "Supply and Demand," from the Options collection. The first, "The World and a Door," is from Whirligigs. I identified with the Island Time theme of "The World and a Door," though it's not set on an island as such, but in La Paz, Bolivia. Copyright 1914.

My drive to Chester was like other drives there and elsewhere, full of fire and fury; as I consider the engine of my car, no matter how quiet it is, I think of the power, and also of cars and 18-wheelers and the like passing by in the lane opposite. And then I was by the river shortly after all that burning of fossil fuel was done for me. I sampled the sort of natural essences I mentioned in yesterday's post, but when I was finished the shoot, I felt I hadn't really achieved very much, and told myself to keep fishing, because the participation involved in the fishing game seems to involve more substance and exercise than coming to a river for a photo shoot. But this caveat. What if I were to devout hours to photographing a river, complete with say a half mile or more of walking, just experimenting with different scenes and angles?

The closest I've come to doing this, besides boyhood years when I used to spend hours at a time exploring Little Shabakunk Creek, which I called Little Shabaconk Creek, was with my son on at least several occasions when we spent at least an hour, maybe two-and-a-half, doing nothing but exploring rocks, macroinvertebrates, flowers, other plants, a shale cliff, an interesting juncture between a run-off ditch and the river, birds overhead. I would say we spent at least two-and-a-half hours each time, deeply rewarded. On one occasion, we walked a slate bottom mid-river, when Matt called out to me about rock embedded in that shale which looked like turquoise. I was partly fooled by the looks, too, exclaiming that turquoise surely doesn't exist on the East Coast, and as far as I know, it doesn't. We got a piece out of the river bottom and made sure. Still an interesting anomaly for a slate bottom.

Part of my concern at present is the value of my better photos. Yesterday at Sherman Hoffman, on my way back up the trail from the Passaic River headwater, I was taken by the scintillating burnished brown of something like wheat grass, fully six or seven feet tall. Instantly, I thought of photographing some, and though I did try just to see if there was any sort of hope of cropping an image of any value--no go with this. I looked at the grass again and thought that a painter could do it. A painter, if he were to select the likes of what I looked on as subject, could create a realist painting a camera can't get.

I began to think of my photo collections--I have three big ones I hope to publish as books in the future, collections which continue to grow--as documentary. I've told myself for years now that I don't care if photography is art or not. That's a self-denial or simply a refusal to think about this, since I've been busy otherwise. I may have time to think about it more and come to a conclusion. If all I can offer for three books is documentary, the photos have aesthetic value; I choose and edit them for just that. But it is curious how they just don't draw such an aesthetic response for me right now, as they have for a number of years. Even Lightroom feels too limited. I don't claim to be among the best skilled at using the device, but it just cannot be particular as a paintbrush. 


Monday, September 11, 2017

Passaic River


Blood pressure problem I mentioned in a fairly recent post is solved. Saw my physician this morning; on the way home, I stopped at New Jersey Audubon Sherman Hoffman Preserve, walked a trail to the Passaic River and took some photographs. Here the river is a little trout stream, loaded with browns and rainbows anyone can fish with a fly rod. Signing in at the NJ Audubon shop is required. 

This photo I've posted isn't much. I'm keeping the better for possible use.

I nearly decided not to make the trek that proved much less the effort than I had feared. I would come home and fiddle my riddle instead, just a couple of hours before I would leave for work, but once I walked from a field into woods, I felt that coolness possible to experience only in a woodland, because the air breathed has whatever scents or whatever the stuff is--very subtle--not present in other environments. So rather than the status quo home environment qualifying who I am, I got at least a little of this subtle complexity, and by the river also.

It makes a difference. 





Sunday, September 10, 2017

Breakfast Chat



She fixed potatoes and I had some. And then sometime later, waffles. Filling and delicious, not as good as talk accompanying the meal.

It was my wife's idea. Old Wooden Bridge Fish Camp on Big Pine Key, 2007. Again in 2012. And now she told me Irma's Eye stormed right through, and she had fears the cottages are gone. I watched the radar representation on TV and it looked like maybe the eye cut through just a little to the north, but maybe I'm mistaken. She had heard it announced Big Pine Key took the heaviest wind.

"Why don't you come out to the reef with us?" I asked. Thinking ahead to next time, in spite of the storm.

"You two are daredevils," she said. My son and I.

I took her out on a rental at Ocracoke, 2005, and she screamed with terror when I clocked the engine towards full throttle.

Conversation touched on a number of things; one of them the hurricane my original family sat out at Southern Shores, North Carolina's Outer Banks, 1976. I was 15 and taken by the storm. I felt a great desire to go out and fish the surf in 75-mph wind. I had fished earlier in the day or the evening before, surf high and pounding, waves at least 10 feet, and what I'm pretty sure was a bluefish slammed the Hopkins I cast, though failed to get hooked. I was hooked. And I later got in an angry fight with my father about going out in that storm. When I calmed down, I realized the situation I had put him in. How could my father let his son go out in a clearly life-threatening storm? I remained sure I would have handled it OK, and I still feel this same way, but of course I understand what the real issue of relationship was.

Fast forward to 1999. This anecdote is a little absurd, but maybe fun. I finally went out in a hurricane. Floyd. It had calmed enough to allow safe driving. Maybe it was the eye. I don't remember. Maybe the end of it. There's a pond in Bernardsville. I've caught bass in muddy water on spinnerbaits. So I cast a spinnerbait...into the eddy of a river. The entire acre or two was one big fast current, besides an eddy.

I was just "messin' around" as J.B. Kasper once remarked about my Opening Day trout fishing effort in 1994. I took offense to Joe's words, but on further reflection later, no, because I prefer not to make the outdoors a duty, if I can avoid that sort of damper on the fun and enlivening spirit. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Three Bridges to Higginsville


Jorge and I canoed between CR 613 at Three Bridges and the bridge at Higginsville, a distance of little more than a mile, departing at about 8:15 a.m., finishing just after 10:30 a.m. No holes! Besides maybe three or four feet a hundred yards or more upstream of the Higginsville Bridge, and a nice hole at least seven feet deep at the bridge.

In 2012, I drove along the river between the bridges, judging no access available, thinking of canoeing this stretch sometime, imagining great spots with big bass. Last night I reviewed my Hunterdon County Hagstrom map, the stretch between Stanton Station and CR 523 too long for us to have paddled it this morning, but it seemed very promising to me, partly because I've got word about bass inhabiting spots along these four miles. I hoped the stretch I had selected wouldn't be too short, and as the morning worked out, including anchoring to test water ahead of us, instead of running over it, the timing was right on the margin.

I caught a largemouth on a #9 Rapala. Jorge caught a smallmouth on a Senko. Both fish from the deep hole at our destination.

This post is short and very lean of substance. Habits, including writing habits of course, get broken, if needlessly, by interruptions. This blog was well kept this year. Last night's post, however, is the first in about a week-and-a-half. Will I come back around and again post more often? I suppose so.

You might think it's not the real world I write about. Surely, you infer irony at that statement, since what I write about is what civilization stands upon--the natural world. If I were no longer able to write about that--the natural world and responses to it--what's the use of the rest, I wonder.