Small Catastrophes 6/11

(Column from Friday, June 11)

I was amused when, while attending and covering the Bayou Teche Black Bear and Birding Festival “thank you” event last Thursday, my friend Diane Wiltz thanked me for helping promote the festival this year.

Diane said, “When Roger’s not writing about fishing, he was doing a great job helping us support and promote the festival.”

Not only was it a sweet honor for me to be so recognized…but after all the months, and years even, of being ribbed and kidded and whined at and threatened…I see that finally my faithful readers have at least come to terms with the fishing columns!

All right, fine, I know Diane doesn’t speak for everyone…but dang if I won’t pretend she does!

See, I know it grates on some people’s nerves. Makes others very happy. But the simple fact of the matter is, if I have any slight grain of talent whatsoever in all this dribble, it’s that I write about subjects I’m passionate about. Such passions are wildly unpredictable and often all-consuming.

Oh, it’s funny, really. On any given day, I’ll get:

“If you don’t shut up about fly fishing I’m never reading you again.”

“I love it when you talk about those beautiful streams up in north Louisiana.”

“Enough with the fishing! Write about ________ (insert subject I don’t want to write about here.)”

“If you write another word about anything but fishing, I’m going to blow your face off with a bazooka!”

You get the idea, although I’m being a bit melodramatic.

As it happens, I haven’t wet a line since my vacation May 10-16. Absolutely no time, and when I do, the weather has been all but cooperative. I have come to consider myself, “The only fly fishing writer in the world who doesn’t get to fly fish.”

I have been piddling with the boat a little. You’ll recall I said I had it “ready to use” for my LPB filming on my vacation, but it wasn’t truly finished. I mess with it when I have a little spare time, and have managed to build a front stowage area in the bow where I’ll keep my trolling battery and what-not. I am also sanding the interior paint, which was applied hastily, for a few more finish coats. Then I’ll do the same to the varnish.

It’s not that I don’t want to fish. I really do. The oil spill has me depressed enough that when I look out at the bayou I get really, really sad. Doesn’t make sense, I know, but any time I look at the water around here I just get this sense of dread and hopelessness.

My other problem is I have really gotten to the point where the fishing I like best is stream and river fishing, sans boat. None of that down here, of course, thus I built a new boat, but it’s just been too hectic to go.

I’m not throwing a pity party. I told you a few months ago, I need to declutter my life, especially in spring and fall and somewhat in summer. I am dying to get my behind up to north Louisiana, hot or not, and get into a streambed. Maybe in a week or two.

Here’s an example: I woke up Saturday morning to make coffee. Half-asleep, I kept hearing a strange noise. Couldn’t quite place it, but soon enough it occurred to me I was hearing running water. I checked all the faucets in the house, nope. I went outside, thinking maybe I had left a hose running in the garden. Uh-uh. Then I noticed the pool of water under the house near the patio.

Why am I the only fly fishing writer in the country that doesn’t fish? Broken pipes, under the foundation of the house, in the heat of summer, that’s why.

Thus was spent a miserable, muddy, painful weekend. I had to trace the line that fed cold water to the kitchen. It went three directions: To the front of the house, and vanished. To the back yard, and back to the house. And of course up to the kitchen. I finally figured out that these were the original pipes – by their condition it was obvious they were 70 or 80 years old – and they went out into the back yard because they once connected to the old pump house. But I could not find the source until I dug deeper and found yet another line that went to the main line back of the house.

After lots of soul-searching, cigar-smoking and praying, I was fairly sure that line only fed the kitchen sink. So I got my reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade and sliced that puppy off from the main line, which was PVC with an adapter in between.

I then rebuilt that second with PVC – it also fed part of the rest of the house on a separate line and an outside faucet – and left myself a capped piece to tie into later. After letting the PVC cement set for two nerve-wracking, restless hours, I put on the water and Voila! No leaks, and we had water to the rest of the house.

Sunday, I got under there and ran a whole new line to the kitchen. Suzie had ran to Steward in Baldwin and got me the parts I needed and then some, and it was a good thing, because it turned out I needed the extras she had gotten, too. I finished that part, spent another two hours of nervous pacing, and was delighted that it held and did not leak.

But we still don’t have hot water to the kitchen. That’s because my grandmother had installed a 10-gallon water heater under the kitchen sink to get faster hot water. I don’t know who installed it, but the resulting bird’s nest of copper tubing, valves, Scotch tape and chewing gum was so frightening I just removed it all and threw it aside. The original hot line was still there, but capped, and so that’s the project for next weekend: Restoring the hot line.

So there was a weekend shot to heck because of broken pipes, in the summer. You think I’d rather have been fishing? Boy, howdy.

Couple of weeks, though, I plan to head north again, find a nice little stream with cool, clear water and wade its snaking spine upstream in search of fish, but really, what I’m searching for isn’t piscatorial at all. It’s a soothing caress for my bruised and battered nerves; a tonic for my fears and a magic spell to carry me away from all the worries and trepidations down here.

Moving water. River water. Wild water. The earth’s pulse: life’s cante jondo, its inviolate hymn, its oldest lullaby.

The rhythm of things that ebb and flow.

Come and go.

– Harry Middleton, The Bright Country.

1 comment to Small Catastrophes 6/11

  • blufloyd

    So last Sunday night mowing in the rain I hear this loud clunk and blades stopped. First thought was, “Not the deck belt please” followed buy what brand of mower did the Stouff man get? So spent all week getting it back to better than was but put call in to brother in law for antique John Deere rider cause I know he has them and they are pretty neat. I sneak out and fish hour here and there. My economy is booming so almost too much work.

    I got HVAC things coming down the pipe too. Before the fall pilgrimage to Loozy although a mid summer trip might happen.

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