a trip home, part III, smoke on the water The food was excellent--just the right amount of hardy to keep us alive and to help process the beverages we drank before, during and after our repast. There's something about the river, being out on the water breathing clean air rife with the scent of water all around, that I swear one can drink and eat twice as much as on land without the ill effects. Tim packed a bottle of drink for us to enjoy and keep us from being parched. I mixed equally divided portions of a whole bottle in three blue cups with some frozen lime ade and fresh limes. Refreshing.
With stomachs working on the meal and some alky-haul, we took cousin Paul's empty boat down stream a hundred yards and loaded it with all manner of driftwood and bits of burnable debris. The fire, although spectacular for quite some time, was not necessary for anything other than effect. The night turned cool, but comfortable, and Tim's fire blazed high and mightly over the water casting great shadows, obtuse angles of our silhouettes against rocks and trees as we stumbled around trying to finish our drinks and prepare to fish. Nature cleansed the air for twenty minutes with a steady soaking that moved on through quickly, leaving orange firelight licking up at the clear sky.
Do not worry that we spent all our time, going, going, going. The river will not allow that sort of behavior without exacting a heavy price. Stumbling over rocks in the dark, poling boats, fishing, and drinking--Jesus, the drinking alone will wear one's ass out. We took time to sit on large rocks, laying down on them to share their warmth and to occasionally sing lines we could remember from Talking Heads songs or any song that has the word river in it. These moments are important.
Fishing, though. That's important, too. You wouldn't know if from our work there, though. Those damn Jamaicans kept showing up over and over again, and before we knew what was going on an hour passed and all any of us had to show for it was a vague recollection of how fascinating the crescent moon disappearing over the hill back of town was, or how urgent it seemed that the fire be kicked and stoked and prodded back to a roaring inferno, if only for a moment's flare-up. Another hour sitting still, listening to the train rumble around the base of the mountain two hundred yards away, it was quiet enough to hear individual spikes creak in the railroad ties. Fishing just didn't fit into the priority list as heavily as it could have.
That said, we did have a catch. A haul as they say. Whitney caught a snail on a spinner earlier in the day--a feat of angling prowess only surpassed by Tim's night time test of nylon temper and skill. Here he is blessing the catch.
Yes, that is a crayfish. Yes, that is a finger, the bad finger. Fully distended, both crayfish and finger, white in the camera flash. I hooked the catch on the hook, crushing his carapice slightly, allowing his vital juices to ooze into the water. Chum, scents of liquid guts, just what catfish like to eat. Still there were no takers. I believe the finger was safely stowed for the rest of the evening.
Sleep came late, or early, depending on the clock or the calendar. Each of us found our own rock nests under our sleeping bags and marvelled at the train's sound and sounds of crashing death never fully explained, perhaps the noise was the liquor talking. Sleep was good, though, despite a rock that demanded over and over again that it belonged inside my ass and wouldn't be happy until it found its way in there through my ribcage. I think Tim and Whitney slept better than I did, but no matter. A so-so night of sleep on the river recharged more batteries in me than a hundred dead-to-the-world naps on land could ever hope to.
Moments like this one, waking on the water, looking at the sky, I wish better photographic skills didn't escape me so. The mist on the water and the fog in the low clouds fill my head with thoughts of dinosaurs and great plates of doughnuts. Why the two exist there may say something unknown about how the Jamaicans have altered my brain chemistry over the years, or not.
We packed out, leaving no trace save for our fire raging high with the last of the wood we gathered. It's not anything like when camping in the forest, a fire licking at fog in the middle of the river is, as we all agreed, not fucking likely to spread.
The phones didn't work on the river for some blessed reason. I poled us back across the channels, across the open expanse of the main channel close to shore and we drifted silently in on Liverpool. The expanded highway has encroached on the shoreline by some miracle of ecological oversight, taking a hundred feet of what used to be sweet sandy beaches and grassy lawns maintained by our family, the Taylor family to the north of us, and the Nipple family to the south. Yes, we grew up with Nipples to our South.
After a disappointing encounter with my cousin Tim at his gas station we were off to NY to see robots. The rest is all just another level of liver damage mine would just as soon forget. Thanks to Cootie and Liz for the hook-up with Barry at NWP. Aren't we shiny?