Drive home

Some days driving home is an absolute mind numbing horror. I grind through traffic setting I-90 ablaze with my hatred for the commute and everyone involved. I can’t push the car fast enough. The cattle in front of me can’t get out of my way fast enough. Thoughts of mounting 50 caliber machine guns onto my domestic blue Toyota Camry sedan ricochet in my mind. Delmar O’Donnell reprimanding me, “Oh, George… not the livestock.”  Left lane is for the living. The right lane is for the dying. I am Imperator Furiosa. I am Max Rockatansky. WITNESS ME.

But lately – in the soft dusty blue of last light, I find myself thinking about the past. Growing up in Winona. The swirl of memories real and imagined. Flashes of fresh muddy spring air blowing over the Mississippi River as I would reel in fish that my Dad would catch for me high atop of the Wagon Bridge. Summer afternoons spent wasting the day away with my cousins at my Aunt Kathy’s pink house in town, waiting for our favorite MTV video to air. Typically we had SpaghettiOs for lunch. Other times we fried the sunfish we caught earlier in the morning from the lake. My job was to scale them. My brother cut the heads off and gutted them while my sister fried them for us. I can hear our child voices echo and the smoky smell of fried Bluegills in my aunt’s old house, now filled with college renters, hunched over mobile devices. Winters growing up were epic in scale and heavy with large amounts of snow. Images of our kitchen glowing orange in late winter light spending my time sledding before dinner, endlessly tromping up the hill in front of our house. Coming inside when my mom would get home and smelling goulash stewing while my dad would sing snippets of verse from old country legends – Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, and Charlie Pride to name of few.

These visions slide along with the peeling landscape before me as I dumbly pass through traffic on I-90. I’m less annoyed in this reverie than when I’m present, listening to music, and thinking about the mundane details of the day. I stop myself when my heart begins to ache. It’s a real feeling. I chide myself for being sentimental and nostalgic. A narcissistic exercise in futility. I keep telling myself that these are reflections from radiation emanating out of a nearby black hole. The Flat Earthers were right.  That the matrix is simply playing out on a screen that we are watching. I quietly sing the chorus to Willie Nelson’s On the road again.

When I start to come down West Burn’s Valley and into Winona (all manner of mythical and woodland creatures following my car trumpeting my return to this beautiful river town, you tell me what is real) I decide that I don’t care about the reality of it. It doesn’t matter. These are memories of a good childhood, a past full of love. Things that we should never forget no matter how long the drive.

 

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First fish of the open water season!

IMG 1105  First fish of the open water season!
Asshole Northrin – I love these guys. Going on my plate this year. Time to deal with that y-bone. I had speared a minnow on the previous cast and left him on my lead head and twister. This guy came along on the next cast and got breakfast and a release. A beaver surfaced right before he hit. For a minute I thought I snagged that damn beaver. Lucky me, lucky beaver.
IMG 1107 768x1024  First fish of the open water season!
River Redhorse! All the fish show up in the spring. Super pretty.
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2015 Farewell to Lock and Dam #6

 

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Looks like a super great day for a farewell fish at Lock & Dam #6
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Beautiful to the south. In the distance a crew from the Wisconsin side comes over.
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My dad holding down our territory. It’s good to have a fishing partner. Particularly one that knows a lot about fishing.
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I strike big! 21.5″ Walleye down at the Lock & Dam #6. I had to dive my arm down into the hole to catch him after he threw my hook at the top of the hole. Didn’t even have time to take my mitten off. You can see in the photo that my sleeve and front of my jacket are soaked. A nice guy came over and gave me some dry work gloves and said, “You’re gonna need these.” Such an epic end to the ice fishing season!
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We’ll just throw you into my 5 gallon pail for safe keeping. Don’t mind my soaked mittens.
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The scene was lively. Lots o’ anglers. When the college guys’ girlfriends show up with beer, it’s an official party but the girls that showed here we’re only interested in fishing.
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This beautiful view looking down the Mississippi River never gets old for me.
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Amish representing at LD 6
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One last shot. Lucky Grateful Dead shirt.
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How every fishing season should end!
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