One last look before closing the barn door

by | Dec 26, 2019 | Hunting in Rhode Island, Ice Fishing, Pheasant Hunting, Striped Bass Fishing

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Winter, with her drapings of snow, curtains of north wind and blankets of ice to freeze ponds and pines, is near. She is challenging sportsmen kicking withered leaves against breaths of cold air and long nights. Wood stoves are replacing beach fires as daylight shrinks behind bare tree shadows.
E.B. White gave us

“Oh, they are lovely trees that wait in the still hall of winter.”

Indeed we wait, store gear and thoughts then rush through calendar pages to restore a balance of light and dark but there will be no rushing what we cannot control, a reality to lament as we turn to look back one last time. 

One last look at a weak and rusty hasp, brushed with salt patina, as we close the barn doors. Before snow blows in, before someone eyes our treasure, we push trailers carrying our escapes into dark rest homes. Rain and creatures surely will creep in as cold thins blood and grains. Left in a lonely room, a dog with her ears back, there are no lights to warm a wooden skiff or canoe through December, January, February, March and maybe, if the ides do not fare thee well, into the first weeks of trout season.
They carried us away, towards points on a compass, down small streams and across ponds. Winter waits, but not for long, so we burned around their edges, suffocating them with artificial snow blankets, sealing them from the elements and our appreciation. Often, we don’t need to go far to get somewhere else and boats do that for us. 
One last look at rolls of fiberglass on shelves matted to cans of resin but now the air is wrong for repairs. Canoes, desperate for attention, unintentionally relegated to the three year plan, must wait. Upside down, pinned by blue tarps, they will be there for us when red winged black birds call and some first thin asparagus stretches for light. 

dogs and winters

Resting, waiting for fair weather

One last look at tired dogs curled tightly on couches shared with us. They are tired from months watching us dig clams or cast to rises then pointing to roosters crouched in tall grasses. Endlessly they barked at stripers hauled from beach waves, soliciting no response, save for wagging tails; one in delight, one in peril. They are three seasons tired. Dogs are our constant companions; we have wide circles of story stretching friends to fill winter months while they have just us. One last look at wet, briar scratched noses and ears with slowly wagging tails before their sleep inspires our own and we draw drapes tightly for the night, or perhaps the season.  
One last look at tailgates, as we close in beds tight with split red oak and silver maple. It will be months before we hold down truck beds with our shoulders and arms, cradling cold cans, adjusting khaki caps tinged with smells of offshore success and eels, watching a days last colors allow for the strength of darkness. It will be months before we will sit on tailgates again, dangling deck boots or peeling off waders. Sounds of closing tailgates will ring through our heads for months. 
One last look at corner closets, where each year, broken rods increase in number. Most are beyond repair, some are sure candidates but each has its story so collectively they are far too significant to discard. Come Spring, a few may be chosen for new tips or guides but largely, they will remain in a cluster, ready for the next run of owner motivation, which may never come. 

tcorayer2019

Hanging from the ceiling, not just rods, they are memories, too.

One last look overhead to a trusty scrap wood rack cradling our rods; favorite, common, new, used, just plain tired. Motionless, they move our memories of rolling boats and trickling streams, miles driven and ponds paddled, somehow calling to us when we walk below. They are reminders of warm months and full coolers.
One last look at fly reels now safe in pouches, perched on shelves or in fancy cases with rod tubes standing sentinel. They too took us away this year. Four and five weights avoided tree tangles to temp trout with Mickey Finns and Griffiths Gnats. Eight weights gave us strength when early bass came to greet returning herring. Second generation ten weights held fast against mahi circling beneath the slow revolutions of new energy.
tcorayer2019hiddencanoe
One last look at colorful kayaks strapped to cellar ceiling slings and laid on aluminum shed floors. They powered countless perfect mornings with sand worms and coffee cups, contests across unknown ponds in search of largemouth and days drifting through Brenton Reef, dodging anxious charter captains staking claim on public waters. Kayaks have afforded us easy access; leaning on that garage door, we feel the success of good days and the angst of waiting to be back on the water.  

a sweet canoe to carry us away

One last look at a sweet Old Town cedar and mahogany canoe, safe behind that rusty rasp. Crafted by the finest tradesmen and women 1926 had to offer, she is sweet with her lines, comforting with her ride, peaceful for her drifts. Pushing two worn, crooked ship lapped barn doors, years past their expiration, scratching a path across rutted gravel and pea stone, announces another season’s closing. There is no barter too great which would afford us more time. 
We have been blessed with glimmers of abundance and notices of depletion. Greed occasionally gripped the few while the masses celebrated good fortune as fishermen, hunters, hikers, boaters and dreamers. 

E.B. White continued, 

“And here, too, silent by their side

I stand in the woods, listening, upright

Hearing in the cold long pause 

Of the full year”  

We need last looks through woods and over seas.

They must hold us for months. 

2 Comments

  1. Everett R Littlefield

    Hey “Bouy” (ala Herman Mast) I just finished reading your post of 26/19/19. That is one beautiful Boat. I had an Old Town cedar canoe for a few years when I was stationed in Brunswick Maine with the USN. Used to go up the Androscoggin as far as two car batteries would take us and then drift back down, either fishing or shooting depending on the season. Loved the thing, but couldn’t take it with me to the next Duty station, Andrews Air Force base in DC..
    Anyway, I take it you are an aficionado of Mr. E B White, and so am I. I have this hanging on my refrigerator and in numerous other places also.
    The spider, dropping down from twig, Unwinds a thread of his devising: A thin, premeditated rig, to use in rising.
    And all the journey down through space, In cool descent, and loyal hearted, He builds a ladder to the place, From which he started. Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do, In spiders web a truth discerning, attach one silken thread to you for my returning!
    Couldn’t figure out how to center align it on my iPad so you get it this way.
    Now that I finally got your site entered on this contraption, I’ll be by often to see what other things you have in your fish wrap papers!
    Hope you all had a great Christmas, as did we folks over here!
    Happy New Year!! Best Regards, Everett. Or as Bob calls me “Gummer”

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About The Author

Todd Corayer is a lifelong fisherman and occasional hunter whose writing relies on poor penmanship, sarcasm and other people’s honest fish stories while seeing words as puzzle pieces that occasionally all fit together perfectly.

His work has appeared in The Double Gun Journal, On The Water MagazineThe Fisherman, The Bay Magazine,  So Rhode IslandSporting ClassicsCoastal AnglerNY Lifestyles, The Island Crier, and very often in the wonderful RISAA Newsletter.

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