Posts Tagged ‘lake’

So That’s Why There’s No Fishing

Posted: March 15, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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slime monster

“Avillum: Slime Monster” by carloscara at DeviantArt

We were having a few drinks down my dock when a creature that looked like the lake come to life stepped out of the water. It was a living man-shaped creature made of mud, water, algae, and fish oil. Twigs, leaves and scales dotted its skin, which dripped fresh water. It had no eyes.

My drunken friend Tom lifted his cocktail glass to it, while the rest of us only started. “Well hello, my slimy friend. What can I do for you?” he asked.

It seized Tom and threw him over its shoulder. Tom yelled, more in surprise, then screamed as a maw opened up in the lake and swallowed him whole. Tom vanished and blood, torn clothes, chunks of meat and Tom’s glasses floated to the surface.

People ran screaming. My friend Bill knocked me off the deck and into the water as he ran for his car. Bill isn’t my friend anymore. I hit my head on the edge of the boat as I went down. I had to be bleeding. I waited for water teeth to tear my body like a food processor.

Nothing happened by the time I popped back up. I gasped for air. The fresh, cold water that coated my face contrasted against the thin stream of warm that ran down from my hair. It had to be blood. Another guest at the house – I couldn’t see who – went sailing into the water. Maybe the lake was too busy munching to worry about me.

I climbed into the boat and threw off the lines. Cars were tearing up my driveway. I heard someone smashing my gun rack. The slime monster was standing near the fire pit where we’d been barbecuing the fish we caught. It kicked over the barbecue. It howled as its kelpy growths steamed when it cried to pick up the fish and picked up coals.

Fish? This was about fish?

I fired up the engine and backed up the boat at a speed that would get my license revoked for the next ten years. I was ten yards off the dock and moving faster by the time I looked up. The slime monster howled and pointed at me. Kind of. It was hard to tell when every movement dripped and blended into the rest of its body.

A wave headed for the boat. I opened the throttle wide and cranked the steering wheel hard left. I jammed my feet against the floor and prayed I didn’t get thrown. The maw opened up, a pit of black water with dagger fanged foam. My props ran right through it. Black water churned and sprayed all around the boat. I smelled kelp and lake slime. I’d never be able to get the stench out of my clothes. I kept the wheel turned, making two more circles. The boat bumped like it rode someone’s wake. Every time it did, black water went flying.

As the water settled, I heard gunfire. Phil missed the slime monster by a mile. The idiot was going to get himself killed. The slime monster turned for him. I got the boat pointed at him and opened the throttle.

Oh, this was a bad idea.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Phil having a hard time pumping the shotgun. He had two people standing near him that were going to take a face full of buckshot if he didn’t pay attention.

The slime monster started for Phil, then double-clutched as it saw my boat screaming toward it.

“Private party, scumbag!” I yelled.

Fiberglas screeched as the boat hit shallow water and rocks. It came out of the water doing over twenty knots and smashed the thing into mush. Gray slime went flying.

So did I. I sailed over the windshield and landed in my front yard. I heard my wrist crack on impact. The pain felt like getting hit with a hammer. Other things might have broken but I was already in a world of it. I rolled five yards before I stopped. Everything hurt.

I looked up at Phil and others as they stood over me. “So that’s why there’s no fishing,” I said.

This post was inspired by the phrase “my slimy friend.”

Thank You from the Mermaid

Posted: November 23, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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lakePatrick cast his line into the water. He heard fish splashing nearby, but not near his line. He sighed. He’d been in the water since six a.m., and they weren’t biting. Maybe they didn’t like his bait, or his technique. Patrick could see the hillside toward town turning pink. The sun would be up soon, and the mist would burn off from the water. On the far side of the lake he heard a loon sound its fluty call.

His line yanked. Patrick started to get excited, then a mermaid popped up holding his bait. “Please don’t fish in the lake anymore,” she said. Before Patrick could gawk in shock, grab his camera, or say good morning, she took a shell out of her hair and used it to cut his lure.

“Hey! You didn’t need to do that! That lure cost me ten dollars!”

She swam over, still holding it. She was about five feet from his boat. Her skin was green like the water, and her eyes were the shiny, silver-gray color of the local char. “It’s a good one. I’ve been shooing fish away from it for the past two hours.” She gestured toward him with it. “You can have it back if you don’t fish in the lake anymore.”

“I… well, first, are you really a mermaid?”

“Are you really asking that question?”

“Okay, forget I asked. Why?”

“You’re a better fisherman than most. You’re fishing out the big, healthy ones. If you keep it up you’ll fish out the lake.”

He put down his fishing rod and scratched his head. Patrick couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “The lake is two miles long, and I, me, am not allowed to fish in it.”

“You’re up earlier, quieter, and use better bait than anyone else in the lake. Who eats fish every night?”

“I like fish.”

“Who’s won the biggest catch contest four years running?”

Abashed, Patrick said, “Me.” Meekly, he asked, “Were they friends of yours?”

The mermaid let the point go. Gesturing with the lure, she said, “There are hatcheries where you can fish. Bigger lakes. Just give this one a break for a while. Or barbecue like your friends.”

Patrick watched her waving his lure. It had been a good, lucky one. He wanted to have it back, but she’d probably drop it in the deepest part of the lake if he didn’t agree. At least she was being polite about it. “If I say yes, can I have my lure back?”

“Yes. I’ll be watching, though.”

He reached out his hand.

“That’s a lovely sunrise.”

Patrick looked over his shoulder. The top quarter of the sun peeked over the hill. The light glowed through a low scarf of cloud, turning it pink. Yes, it really was beautiful.

He heard a clunk as his lure landing in the boat next to him. Then a splash. Patrick looked back. Ripples spread out from where the mermaid had been. If it wasn’t for his lure magically winding up in the boat next to him, he would have thought he was dreaming. A shell with the words “thank you” scratched into it sat next to the lure.

Patrick heard his neighbors firing up the motor on their outboard back at the house. They were lucky to catch minnows. “Well, I guess I’m done for a while,” he said. He took apart the rod, put it away, and started rowing back to his house.

Details, Details…

Posted: August 17, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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lake

It really is 🙂

“Life is better at the lake,” it said. The coaster is made of white stone. It feels solid, like the earth in the north country. The coaster is heavy when you pick it up. It soaks up the water off the sides of your drink as it falls down the glass, whether it’s beer or wine. It soaks up everything, absorbs everything. It takes it in. It shows a picture, painted by hand, of an Adirondack chair next to a sunset.

People from the north country take in what you give them, good and bad. It becomes part of them. They never forget. They are granite. They’ve been there forever and they’ll be there forever after you’ve faded away. They drive trucks, hunt and fish, hug their dogs, love their families, cook in fires. They know when it’s time to draw a line and say, “You might cross it, but I’m not.”

People from the north country are water. Their minds are as open as their blue skies. They are what they are and dare anyone to try to tell them otherwise. They swim in lakes, paddle in kayaks, look at stars. They know when it’s time to dig out the snow and when it’s time to ski it. When the time comes to choose freedom, they will, every time.

People from the north country cherish their leisure time. They work to live, not live to work. They know leisure time is living. They know leisure time is family time. They set aside their gadgets. They sit in Adirondack chairs, which some genius made so hard to get out of because the point was to stay in it. They sit in a little porches watching the sun set, playing impossible trivia games where half the fun is making up an answer.

People from the north country have earned their leisure time. When it’s time to work, they go until it’s done. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave. They do their own work. If they ask you to help, their fingerprints will be on it, too. They’ve brought spare tools if you forgot yours. They sweat, they cuss, they rip it all down and start over if they have to. What they’ve built will last. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be a thing of beauty, too, if only for the heart and soul that went into it.

Today’s post brought to you by the following exercise: take one square inch sitting next to you and describe every single detail. Whew.

More on Open Water

Posted: August 2, 2012 by writingsprint in Triathlon
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Today was my second try at open water swimming, and it went much better than the first. The first wasn’t necessarily bad, it just scared the crap out of me, and I had no idea how to gauge how much energy I had left and what to do with it. I also wasn’t sure how far I’d gone.

If you’re anything like me, here’s a comparison between what your first time in open water will be like versus your second:

The First Time The Second Time
This water keeps moving every time a boat goes by. I just got a mouthful of water! Damn! Look on the bright side: at least the water tastes better than chlorine.
I can’t put my feet down! I have to swim where it’s shallow! Hey, this is kind of cool. It’s like I’m weightless. I bet this is what it feels like to be an astronaut doing a spacewalk.
The water’s getting dark. I can’t see the bottom. Now I can’t touch bottom and I can’t see bottom. This is too much like Dante’s Inferno. Get me the hell out of here! Hmm. Not seeing the bottom is kind of creepy. I’m going to skirt the edge of it this time, and I’ll work on swimming over it more next time.
My arms are tired. I mean, not exhausted tired, but I don’t know how much gas I have left in the tank. What if I make a mistake, take in a mouthful of water and lose it? My arms are tired. Let’s work stretching out farther. In a few minutes I may roll over and just kick for a bit.

Feeling like I could play with not touching bottom and the dark edge of the water below me took about eighty pounds of the pressure off. I actually had fun with it. I am more glad than I can put into words that I’m doing this for the first time now, and not with a month or two to go before the triathlon.

Hmm. I need to get more open water swimming in. I need to look into where I can do that in Philly.

Since I was more composed I did a better job counting my strokes this time. I’m very sure that I went at least 600 yards, and possibly 800. Most of it was freestyle, some of it was breaststroke and a little bit of it was kicking on my back. Other than learning that open water isn’t the antigravity well of terror, I learned that I really, really need to build up my lung capacity so that I’m getting more air with each breath. My rhythm is good, but I need more air in order to pull as strongly as I want to. I breathe much better on my right than my left, meaning that my right side ties up because it doesn’t get a break. Need to work on that too.

My sister-in-law’s dogs didn’t know what to make of this strange guy swimming up to the dock from way out on the lake. I popped out of the water with two very curious faces staring down at me :).

I’m up in New Hampshire with my wife and her family, up by the Great East Lake. It’s a lovely day, quiet and softly raining, temperature in the mid to high 70’s. Other than relaxing and having a good time… and getting some Maine lobster… visiting Kennebunkport, watching some Olympics… anyway, other than a bunch of things, I wanted to have the guts to do some open water swimming while I’m here. I’ve never done open water swimming, and if I’m going to do the triathlon next year, it’s high time I get used to it. I wanted to get used to what it looks like under water, how dark it is, how it feels. How it feels is a big question for me: it has to be colder than pool water, so again, I’d better get used to it. I also wanted to learn what the water tastes like, and how I’ll react when the water’s choppy and I get a mouthful of it. I won’t have the chaos of a thousand other swimmers around me, but a start’s a start.

There were more than a few butterflies and excuses knocking around in my head. Oh, it’s a rainy day, don’t bother. There are some boats out, you should be careful. It’s your first day of vacation! Relax! Yammer yammer yammer. Get in the water, dude. It’ll be cold! Yammer. If I listen to the excuses today it’ll be harder not to listen to them later. I’m still going.

Speaking of starts, We drove up at oh-dark-thirty yesterday, so I slept in today and got off to a late start. I made it down to the water’s edge in swim trunks a little after noon. The thermometer that we keep in the lake said the water temperature was about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty good. High 70’s, 80 max, is a good pool temperature for me. My wife told me the lake’s been warm this year. That means the river back home is going to be colder next July. Okay, that’s good to know. I put my goggles on and flopped backwards off the dock into the water. Then I started kicking and settled into my fingertip drills.

Let’s start by saying that the bottom of a lake looks nothing like the bottom of a pool. It’s green, it’s rocky or it’s muddy, and it’s dark. Visibility was maybe about 10 yards. Bits of plants blown off from nearby trees floated here and there. No doubt any fish in the area bolted as soon as I started swimming.

It’s hard to see where you’re going. Holly, my trainer, already told me to relax my neck and not look so much at where I’m going, to keep from bunching up the muscles in my shoulders. I’m here to tell you that even when you’re looking, you’re really not seeing enough to help anyway. Three times I was almost on top of a neighbor’s boat dock before I knew it, and had to swim around. It was all the more reason to just look straight down and swim far enough away from the docks for it not to matter.

Fresh water tastes much, much better than pool water. They don’t call it “fresh” for nothing. I’m sure there’s some algae, leafy bits, and boat fuel or polish in it, but it’s not like I was drinking it.

It’s easy to get disoriented. Other than my close encounters with the docks, twice I found myself in shallower water than I expected. I figure this won’t be such a problem when I’m surrounded by all the other swimmers. That’s my master plan not to get lost: follow someone else’s feet.

And, for those of you who’ve been following this adventure, the next part won’t surprise you. The biggest problem I had was in my head. As soon as I got tired, at all, I got worried. Let’s face it, I really don’t know how tired I’m going to feel before there’s a problem. That dark water and not always being able to just stand up and breathe scared the crap out of me.

First I swam through the fear. Fear happens. It’s what you do with it when you’re in the middle of it that matters. I didn’t ignore it and I didn’t push it down, but I recognized that my arms weren’t lead weights, my legs weren’t either, and I could still breathe. It didn’t make it go away but thinking at all is a good thing. After a while, I did what my trainer taught me to do: I rolled over onto my back and kicked, but kept going. When I got my breath back, I rolled back over and kept going. A few times I breaststroked, too, but that’s boring, so I went back to freestyle and worked on my breathing. The big thing was that not to stop, at all.

The goal was to do at least a quarter mile today. If I felt dynamite, I’d do a half mile. I have no idea how far I went; I lost count after 200+ strokes, so I definitely made the quarter mile. I swam as far as I had the nerve to go, then turned around and came back. My wife said that she didn’t know when I left, but it went past 12:30 while I was out, and it was about 1:00 when I came in. Assuming I was swimming the whole time, fast or slow, breaststroke or freestyle, that’s pretty darned good for a first try.

The next swim is in three days. I’ve got two days of solid put-your-feet-up-and-enjoy-it time coming in Kennebunkport tomorrow and the day after. That’s a working port and there’s no way I’m swimming in *that* water! After that, we’re back at the lake house, and if there’s no lightning, I’ll be swimming open water again.

NothingnessThis is a funny way of describing the big bang. It’s also a good way to roll into yesterday’s prompt from WordPress: “Try to think about nothing. What happens?” I like the concept, but I must admit, I can’t think about nothing. Even when I meditate in yoga class, I’m focusing on my breathing. Listening to the sound of my breath, hearing how it even it is, and feeling the relaxation in my body and the fullness of my diaphragm with each breath, is as close as I can get to thinking about nothing at all. After I do that for a few seconds, my subconsciousness wants to come out and play. My thought process dives into a mix of dream theater and whatever is happening in the room. To go down that rabbit hole, check this out.

I do like the concept, though. I think it’s time to take a side trip to see my favorite migraine sufferer: Bob Parr from the “Shatter” series.

Dr. Sekare finished attaching the electrodes to Bob’s head. “These are passive,” he reminded Bob. “I’m not going to light you up.” He smiled gently.

“Do I look like I don’t believe you?”

“I wanted to make sure you do.”

Bob gave him a half cocked grin, one that he reserved for wise assed coworkers and car salesmen. “Saying it over again doesn’t help, Doc. Let’s just get on with it.” If the good doctor really did light him up, Bob would take it out of his hide afterwards.

Dr. Sekare nodded to the nurse. She turned on the machine. Numbers and plots of brain waves flowed up and down the screen. Bob didn’t have a clue what they were measuring. Dr. Sekare took some notes. He murmured to the nurse, made some adjustments, and seemed satisfied with what he was seeing.

“All right, then. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply.” Bob did. “Imagine that you’re sitting in a fishing boat, on a completely still day. The water is still, and the boat isn’t moving. Mist is on the water. You can barely see the land through the mist. Below you, the water is a sheet of deep, blue glass. Some time ago you saw fish in the water, but now you don’t see anything at all.”

Bob took a deep breath in, and let it out slowly. The air felt cool.

“This is safe place.” The machine began beeping. Sekare caught his breath. A little testily, he asked, “Are you all right, Mr. Parr?” It sounded like a tone he used on graduate students.

Bob wasn’t one of them, so he didn’t like hearing that tone. “Sorry, Doc. Same thing. If someone tells me, I’m safe, I don’t believe them.”

“Will you take my word for it?”

Bob laughed. “Sure.”

“Then take a minute and try to bring your mind back to the same level of relaxation you were in just a moment ago. Take as long as you need.” It took a while. Bob thought he could hear Dr. Sekare’s breathing tighten up as the time drew out. It reminded him of a snake hiss. Funny. As Bob relaxed, Sekare’s hiss went away, too. It made Bob angry. After last night’s nose-bleeding headache, it would be nice if the doctor remembered who the patient was.

Sekare spoke in almost a whisper. “Stillness. Nothingness.”

Bob’s world faded away. The boat seemed to be in the middle of an infinite lake, with water the color of the night sky. Bob let it go farther. Dr. Sekare droned on about relaxation or the misty breaths of air, but Bob didn’t hear him. He was falling. It didn’t feel bad or scary.

Then something weird happened. Shooting stars started to appear in the water. Bob thought that they looked like grunion fish. Like any good fisherman, he flicked the rod without thinking about it. More appeared. Dozens. Hundreds. The light escalated to a blinding crescendo. Bob watched unafraid, as if it was happening to someone else’s mind. It wasn’t even his dream, for Christ’s sake. The boat disappeared and Bob rode a nova of light heading for the top of Creation.

It all shattered. An electrical shock went across Bob’s body from his right shoulder to his left abdomen. He was sprawled across the examining bed. Dr. Sekare was standing over him, looking like he just dialed 911. His nearly bald head was tousled up and his glasses weren’t even on straight. He held defibrillator paddles.

“Can you hear me?” Sekare asked. Bob nodded. “You went into brain dysfunction. I… I’m sorry. I had to wake you back up and this was the fastest way I knew how.”

Bob tried to speak. He couldn’t form words.

“You will find more in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” St. Bernard of Clarivaux

“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, and climb black branches up a snow-white trunk. Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, but dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.” Robert Frost, Birch Trees

A shady day on the Great East Lake.

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” Junichiro Tanizaki

New Hampshire Morning

Posted: August 7, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011
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New Hampshire morning

Misty morning at the Great East Lake