JULY 27, 2014

THE MOON, RELIGION AND THE HEROIC DOG

 

 

So anyway, Reverend Shouter of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo held a shindig with catered food and hired musicians, and like most of the Reverend's shindigs, this one started out on Monday around 7 am and lasted all day to 10pm where everyone took a break before returning the following day, repeating this into Sunday. This overlapped the popular Park Street Fair, so the Reverend resolved any potential issues for his congregation arriving from Fremont by means of blocking off sections of the street for parking. Come the days of the Fair, no one could find parking for blocks in all directions -- The Faire started at 10 am and the Reverend's people had snapped up every available space from 7am onwards.
their religion spoke against parking garages.

Organizers at the Faire were left scratching their heads as people drove around aimlessly cursing until people got shunted to the public parking garage across from the police station. Which structure the Adelphians were supposed to use, but their religion spoke against parking garages. Indeed their religion is unusual in its disdain for things like common courtesy.

Reverend Shouter observed the chaos from his belfry and saw that all was good and so he descended and spoke a great sermon unto the multitude gathered there before they broke up to eat from the buffet and enjoy tea dancing while the Reverend Shouter tallied the take from the mandatory donations contributed at the door.

"Praise the Lord, we cleared well over $1,000 after expenses!" The reverend told Brother Sucios.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother. "And all tax-free."

"Bountiful is the lord of creation," said the Reverend, who was mighty pleased to have found the Way after many dark years of laboring as an auto mechanic.

With the rollback of clouds, the Bay Area entered into a heat spell that announced the occurrence of Summertime.

California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition.

For Eugene, this meant a segue from poodle-hunting to the more gentlemanly sport of trout fishing. California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition. It is not unusual to find an angler crawling on his belly with his rod and creel dragging behind as he sets himself up to cast a meticulously tied fly in just such a manner that the artificial bait loops over the water surface as if alive.

Everything about trout fishing in the Sierra is as meticulous as it is ritualistic. The only fish who commands more respect and awe may possibly be the Steelhead, for which an entirely separate license must be procured.

Even the handmaking of the lures, the tying of flies, involves carefully defined, precise procedures that are handed down from father to son, mentor to mentee, guru to acolyte.

Eugene begins with diligent research into the nature, hue, and appearance of the individual bugs eaten by trout according to their moods at specific times of the year. Then there are the insect stages of life from nit to pupae, to larvae to full-grown bug. Eugene gathers natural materials as often as possible, raiding owl nests, harvesting marsh plants, combing even his own hair. While the CD player spins the music of Paco Lucia through the air, the material is carefully and artfully arranged on a bodice of cork around the number 12, number 16, number 21 hook. He keeps a few number 8's in the form of wonderfully lifelike locusts, tiger beetles, caddis flies, but for the prized Golden Trout he reserves hooks flatlanders would disdain as puny.

The hook must not be too big, or the wary trout will turn aside with a look of disdain hautiness.

Once the legs and antennae, have been attached one by one with painstaking precision, Eugene studies his meticulous work via a loupe in his kitchen, making careful notes and comparing his artwork to images in a thick tome titled An Entomological Guide to the Sexipodal Fauna Endemic to the High Sierra: A Field Reference for Scientists and Anglers.

Then, setting aside his jeweler's loupe and putting on his Vasque size 11's he drops the artwork on the kitchen floor and stomps on it in a great fury of emotion three times. Then and only then, is the masterpiece considered finished, for no art is worth anything without passion. Just like flamenco.

Into the mountains Eugene then goes each year to the same lake, hiking along the trail miles from any road, following the stream up along the old lava flows, past narrow chasms and gorges and waterfalls, until he arrives at the pristine Lake Martha on the edge of Wotan's Parking Lot and just at the base of Mount Goddard. An arm of Goddard extends south on the far shore, reflecting the multihue granite cliffs in the mirror surface. Beyond that wall tumbles the wild and remote Ionian Basin.
Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps

From Lake Martha the trout variation called the golden trout is thought to first have diverged. Rainbows and brookies are very fine and well worth hiding behind a boulder to hook if you can. Browns are imports and they put up a good fight. Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps. Walleye may be unique and a particular treat upon the palate in some regions of the country, but the golden trout, however, is prized for its extraordinary beauty and high intelligence.

You can talk to a walleye and he just might listen, but the golden trout speaks to a man's soul.

And each year, Eugene comes to this same lake in search of the one golden trout he met long ago on the trip when he accidentally fetched along a canteen filled with Padraic's mysterious home brew which has been known to cause magical visions.

all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him

On that trip as Eugene dozed beside the austere lake the California King Golden emerged its massive head and spoke to him, commanding him to observe the spiritually pure ways of the trout fisherman. And the man arose, and Lo! it was as if his being filled with light, golden light, from the radiant fish who then vanished. And he came down from the glacial plateau that is Wotan's Parkinglot and reentered the roiling crowded world of man and spoke as if transubstantiated to a being from a higher plane of existence and indeed all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him.

Father Richard Danyluk, who also knew a thing or two about transubstantiation, took a more prosaic approach in his quest for average, plain old perch and rockfish. About the most exotic take from the Cove would be a lost halibut or leopard shark.

The light ebbed and flowed as the recent hot skies yielded to the front coming up from the Sea of Cortez, crossing the Sonoran desert, passing over the little knots of parched wannabe immigrants carrying their plastic water jugs, guided by ruthless coyotes and dodging the Border Patrol, sprinkling a bit of moisture over the Judas trees before causing wisps to gather again above the Island to create mini dry thunderstorms, heat lightning with all the fans in all the apartments cranked up to push the air heavy with premonition sluggishly from room to room.

Father Danyluk reeled in one last cast and called it a day with the shadows getting longer and went off to supper prepared by Sister Incontinence, which turned out to be frozen salmon from Alaska, since the local runs have petered out due to climate change and the exuberance of the Army Corps of Engineers who sought to outdo all government agencies once upon a time in building dams from Point Reyes up to Yreka, eliminating (more or less) the danger of flooding along 900 miles of coastline, but effectively destroying the world's largest steelhead fishing industry. In the Sierra, the moody trout warily eyed the surface and listened for footsteps. No one knows really what the trout can see, and that is the truth.

Out through the Golden Gate Pedro motored his boat, El Borracho Perdido, a more real and honest fisherman than any described to this point. Getting grizzled and hoary in his age, with the kids all gravitating to more sensible and modern occupations, like software development for fruity devices and plushy wares for mini things that required a pleasant electrical socket. He had left the house without his customary shave, having too many things to do, kids pulling right and left. The teenager glowering in the corner with his iPad. Something amiss in that kid.

Well, he did not complain about that. The children were supposed to surpass their fathers and in this task most of them looked to be well on the way, including both the irascible teen and the baby Tucker with the famous bottom. In fact, some say the task of the son is to destroy the father entirely, acting out some ancient Greek formula, but this is really an artifice to create drama. Sons and fathers in the American West have enough problems without Oedipus stepping in there with his Jungs getting all Freudened.

He had only himself as he was, a simple man devoted to fishing for a living. For him it had been an occupation into which you stepped because the next step logically and by all reason was to fish because that is what you knew and that was all you were allowed to know at the time and there were no other reasonable options. He got a boat on the cheap from Spiro, and he knew how to fish from his father and his uncle and he had the equipment handed down to him, so he fished and that is how he managed to pay the bills.

So that is how Pedro, getting grizzled along the hairline along with Tugboat his trusty Labrador with the graying muzzle found themselves motoring out to the fishing grounds, nowadays defined by radar and maps at the usual hour of the wee hours of the morning for most of us landlubbers.
St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging

Lightening played on the horizon and the front up from the Sea of Cortez brought its own electrical excitement. St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging and gave even Tugboat an halo as if that experienced dog possessed a sudden spirituality to make Reverend Shouter envious.

"Woof?"

And now, with the waves chopping gently on this night of waning Supermoon, the radar glowing dimly to show the schools, his beard rough, he remembered all the troubled times, all the vicissitudes that everybody experiences getting through Life and wondered what comes next, what in particular remained in store for him.
"You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick . . .".

the massive head fell on him knocking out his wind

Into the early hours his net brought up something heavy and out from the bag a massive Great White started thrashing about on the deck. It was a good fifteen feet long and its great tail smashed the starboard light stanchion as it flailed caught in the ropes. Pedro stepped in with the Mossberg riot gun to put it down. The thing rolled with its eyes glaring with fury and knocked Pedro aside, sending the shotgun over to the wheelhouse. The deck yawed, Pedro's foot caught on the net, and he pitched backwards. The thing bowed and flipped and in coming down the massive head fell on him knocking out his wind and Pedro found himself pinned down staring at the massive jaws, the teeth of the beast and suddenly all values had shifted, as they had in the past under similar conditions with the simple statement, "You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick or Lady Luck passes by".

Tugboat leapt upon the fish and seized it by what passes for a neck, tearing a great rent and letting loose a flood of red shark blood. The shark thrashed and tossed Tugboat aside, but this gave Pedro enough space to get out from under the animal and retrieve the gun.

splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering

The shark grabbed his right leg as he checked the gun and Tugboat leapt again to assault the creature about the eyes. Pedro fired twice into the primeval brain of the creature at close range but it refused to let him go so he shoved the barrel into its mouth along his thigh and fired again, which at least loosened the jaws enough the man could break free by prying the jaws with the gun, shooting again through the roof of its mouth. He stood and fired again at the base and after a long minute, splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering across the deck as the thing's tail thrashed about, the light finally left its eyes.

Pedro fell back against the wheelhouse with his leg bleeding while Tugboat staggered to the fore end of the boat dancing on the chop and there lay down among the ropes.

After a bit, Pedro got himself into the wheelhouse and bandaged up his torn leg because he knew he had to do that or pass out. Then he put on a fresh pair of trousers and oilskins. He went outside to find the body of Tugboat there, washed by the overspray.

Near the Farralones, as the seas quieted momentarily to a gentle swell, the ocean appeased for the moment with its small sacrefice, he let go the body of his old friend, ten years now keeping company, letting the sea take what it always wants, what it always demands in payment for a lifetime of giving up itself, making all accounts even on the ledger, harsh though it may be.

When Pedro returned early, seeing him limping up the walk along without the familiar black shadow beside him and his face all haggard, Ms. Almeida knew something had happened.

Later that day the kids wanted to know "Where's Tugboat?", but the truth was that grey-muzzled Tugboat would romp no more on the green earth. Of coral his bones were made and pearls, his eyes.

From far off across the water came the mournful ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the memento mori of the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown..


 

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