Sunday, March 30, 2008

Looking for SPRING

Well it looks like we are pushing for spring to arrive. Last Saturday my son Eric wanted to try perch fishing in our usual spot at the Sebewaing River. Joining us on this foray was my son-in-law Tim. The river had a tin layer of ice on it from the frigid temperature from the night before and it was barely above freezing but the sun was shining, and we did find a few patches of open water. We never even got a nibble. We tried a few other spots in the area where we had heard second hand that people were catching fish. But they were doing so though the ice out on the lake. We had a pretty good time anyway.

Yesterday Eric wanted to try again. But this time to my surprise my two daughters Angie and Sarah, met us at Sebewaing. We fished in the river for over an hour without so much as a nibble, but had a very good time reminiscing about the times our family would go there fishing when they were kids. This was the first time we were fishing together in many years. All that was missing was Mom, who was NOT going to go out and freeze until we had proof that the perch were running.
Well we worked our way up the Bay shore, stopping at other old haunts that used to provide us with hours of pleasure and buckets of fish, before the water level in the lake dropped many years ago and are now only a shadow of their former glories. We stopped at Bayport and Angie remembered it as being her first fishing memories and threatened to go to the Commercial Fishery and buy some fish to take home. But they didn’t even have their boats in the water yet as it was still iced in there.
So we continued up to Caseville and lo and behold we saw open water out into the lake and we hoped that meant that the perch might be able to enter the river to spawn. There were a few people out on the break wall/pier and some fishing at the mouth of the river. But again, no perch. Angie did manage to catch a White Sucker about 17 inches long, which was thrown back, but at least she caught a fish. Now she had bragging rights, and let us know WHO was the best fisherman in the family. Sarah was getting bored and was just collecting free vitamin D, curled into a ball trying to get out of the wind and enjoy some outdoor sunshine. We made sure that she didn’t fall asleep. For her own safety of course, we didn’t want her to roll into the river.

Eric and Sarah treated us to lunch at their favorite local restaurant and we then headed back toward Sebewaing. Eric wanted to try to one of the places we had heard about but couldn’t reach the week before. This time he had his four wheel drive pick-up. Behind the Christian Bible Camp was a trail that supposedly led to a dike where the warm water from the Sugar Factory emptied into an inlet that led to the lake. This was supposed to be a spot where we heard they were catching very large lake perch. We had found the very muddy deep tracked road/trail the week before. The girls rode on the back of Eric’s truck as we traversed this route which led to a giant reed bed where there used to be shallow water years ago. As we got closer to the lakeshore the mud got worse so we decided to walk to the dike which we could see through the reeds. What a mistake. We followed a muddy two track for a ways but the dike curved farther and farther away so Eric struck out to check out the dike and look for this fabled inlet. He made it after plowing through a wide swath of reeds and then the brush along side of the dike. There was a road on the top of the dike which he followed to the lake. He was out of earshot so I decided that I would follow him and struck out through the reeds too. Can you say MISTAKE. Almost to the dike I encountered ankle deep water and then brush growing in with the reeds along with patches of ice. Yup, graceful old Dad went down. The presence of all of the reeds managed to keep me from getting too wet, but also kept me from regaining my feet. They are slippery when wet and break too easily to be of any use as handholds and tangled my feet. After struggling for a few minutes I was winded. Sarah came to my rescue and helped me get up. We then trudged our way back to the two track where Eric had rejoined with Angie. He saw no evidence of water on the other side of the dike which he had walked from one end to the other. So we slogged our way back through the mud to the truck. Angie and Sarah declined the wild ride back to Sarah’s car and walked.
Somewhere along the way Sarah slipped and fell in the mud. Luckily she was wearing two pair of pants and shed the outer pair for the ride home as this concluded our day of fishing.
No fish to clean, a little adventure and a wonderful time with lots of new memories for all. Just a great spring day.

Oh, and another reason Lynn didn’t go. She has 50 not even a week old chicks to occupy her. Well 49, the runt died last night. Originally she was going to get eight straight run chicks in hopes of raising one rooster and six layers. When we got to the store they had three varieties so we decided to get four of each. Then six of each because she wanted white eggs and only one variety lays white eggs. Then the stock boy told us we could get 25 for just a couple of dollars more. Then the store manager came along and told us for a few dollars more he would give us all of the chicks he had as a new shipment was due in a couple of days and he wanted to get rid of all he had to make room for the them. SOOO we ended up with 18 Rhode Island Reds, 18 (now 17) Barred Rocks and 14 Grey Leghorns.
She also has her plants to care for that she has been starting from seed for this years gardening.

Today we decided to get to work on the old chicken coop. We had previously done some cleaning in it and Lynn did some yesterday while I was goofing off (read: fishing). After I got home I helped her with some of it. So today we were going to re-set the back wall onto the foundation. Years ago we had a bad wind storm that blew down the large Maple tree that grew on the northwest corner (along with seven other trees). The roots from the tree ran under the foundation and cracked it and shifted the whole north wall and foundation. I jacked up the wall but just couldn’t get it shifted back onto the foundation. Now we have to decide whether to rebuild the whole north wall and foundation and make the rest of many repairs and a new roof. Or start from scratch and build a whole new chicken coop. I guess I will have to create a cost list for each and then figure out what to do. But quickly; as I only have a four week deadline for either one. That’s when the chicks will be old enough to go outside.
And then there’s my perch fishing. And yard work. Oh, and did I mention PERCH FISHING. And we should be planting the garden by then too!!
Spring....Don’t ya just love it!!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Growing up in Cass City

Most of my childhood and all of my teen years was spent living ½ mile south of Cass City, Michigan in the Walnut Trailer Park. We walked to school about a mile away and when we weren’t doing other things my brother and I spent our time exploring the area. Our black and white TV had only one channel and since we couldn’t get along, my mother usually shoo-ed us outside. You see besides myself and older brother there was also 2 younger sisters and my parents all living in an 8’x36’ mobile home or trailer. And for the first few years there were no children our age that lived in the park.
But occasionally we hooked up with some of the kids living in town. We used certain landmarks as places to gather. One was “BIG ROCK” which was a boulder about 4 ft high and 10 ft long and 4 ft wide that was in the middle of a small clearing in a woods down by the river. Another was “FROG-LEG TREE” which was closer to town, and it was the tallest tree in the area and at the very top it split and the limbs bent in such a way as to look like a pair of up-side-down frogs legs. It was an old dead Tamarack tree that for many years was a landmark for our excursions until other trees finally topped its height. Then there was “THE TURTLE POND” an L shaped pond fed by a spring in the cedar woods behind Erla’s slaughter house and drain water and blood and tiny fleshy tidbits from the slaughter house. The snapping and painted turtles thrived there along with tons of flies and mosquitoes. It always had a green covering of duckweed and was surrounded on 2 sides cattails. The stream ran along the old railroad bed and was very mucky and to the east of the pond was a cedar swamp area of about 7 acres of cattails. To the east of which was a 20 acre cedar woods.
We had a hatchet and a WWI bayonet of unknown origins that we found when we lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, along with an assortment of jack-knives and cheap hunting knives that we either purchased or found. At first we had to sneak these outside but later they were as much a part of us as our clothes. We fashioned our own bows and arrows and spears and explored the woods to the east of us from near town all the way down to the Cass River about ½ mile to the south to about 1 ½ miles east of town and also along the river to the west 1/2 mile to the west, also the gravel pits and town dumps in that area as well as the gravel pits and ponds just east of the trailer park, and the dump down by the fork of the river. These areas we considered our back yard and grew to know every inch of them and town later when we both had paper routes. John delivered the Saginaw News, and I delivered the Detroit Free Press.
The first year we lived in the trailer park there was no gravel pit to the east of us just rolling hills and a hidden prehistoric looking pond. At one time many many years before someone had dug into the steep hillside and removed the dirt and gravel and left a deep depression with very steep sides about 80 ft long and 30 ft wide. The sides were covered with trees and brush and wild grapevine and I doubt that the pond ever saw anything but the morning sun as the sides probably went up to 50 ft high. I know that some of the town kids and us made a raft to use there but I don’t remember how deep the water was, just dark. And I know we never played IN the water. The next year we moved to Rudyard and when we returned to the trailer park it was GONE along with the rolling hills and just a very tiny pond where it once stood. Now there was a gravel pit and one shallow pond filled with minnows Painted Turtles and frogs. And of course the old “Turtle Pond” was still there.