I opened my eyes, at least I think I did. It was the deepest and most pure blackness I had ever witnessed. Blinking several times I reached towards my face, my fingers crawling and racing their way up my chin and then onto my cheek and ending up at my eye.
“Ouch”, I whispered as I jabbed myself in the eyeball with my rough, calloused finger. Geez, my eyes are open. I felt a brief moment of panic. This is what it felt like to be blind. I swallowed hard and my chest began to get heavy and I felt as if I couldn’t get a breath of fresh air.
I sat upright and felt for the window ledge. It was there last night before I fell asleep. It had to be there again. If not, I was doomed, perhaps I would keel over from a panic attack. My fingers fumbled their way up the smooth paneling, which in the light was made to look like real wood, and bumped into the window sill. I breathed a sigh of relief as my fingers curled upon the small wooden sill and I sat up and rolled to my knees. I peered into the inky pre-dawn world outside through the window for some sign of life. A glimpse of anything visual. As far as I knew, right then and there, I was blind.
I blinked furiously until my eyes began to water and then suddenly, as if a cloud passed by, I saw the smallest wink of a light, a star, and then another and another. The longer I stared out the window the more stars became visible as whatever cloud front moved on by. Within 2 minutes I was staring at a veritable wonderland. So many twinkles in the sky that one could not even begin to count. It was like stepping outside on that winter morning to watch the sun sparkle off every new snowflake that had fell the night before. I gasped and held my breath. I had never seen anything so beautiful before.
Lost in my thoughts and entranced by the night sky I remained that way for some time. Soon I began to see a brightness behind the trees on the opposite side of the lake. Dawn had arrived to steal away the blackness and return us to the land of the light.
“Holy crap,” I whispered in a rush, “We are going to be late.”
I jumped from the bed and scrambled around on the unused bunk bed next to me until I found the small, cold cylindrical object. I thumbed the button and a shaft of dazzling light illuminated the door to my bunk room. Opening my door, I made my way into the kitchen to the stove where the night before I had pre-made two pots of coffee. All I had to do was turn on the gas and wait for the sounds of the pots dancing and bubbling as they percolated. The rhythmic, “ baa- doo be doop, baa -doo be doop” would begin in a few moments, but first I must visit the outside world.
I stepped out of the door and onto the small landing at the top of the stairs. I thought to myself, “There could be bears you know?” It didn’t matter. Racing off into the brush I went, and after a moment I returned, scampering up the steps all the while waiting for the claws to sink into my back. Reaching the top of the steps, I giggled out loud at my silliness and went back inside the cabin. The “baa- doo bee doop” was just beginning and I could smell the invigorating scent of coffee filling the cabin.
It was Sunday, and after a few cups of coffee from one pot (the other pot filled our two thermoses) we dressed, grabbed our gear and headed out to the dock. The sun was just beginning to poke above the horizon. Mist hovered over the water and the scene laid out before us was mesmerizing.
I stepped into the boat and watched as the rippled spread their way across the calm dark waters. Pops climbed in after me and we untied from the dock and pushed our way out into the lake.
We fished all morning and as it began to get hot we decided to head in for breakfast. It was around 10:30-11:00 AM. We had caught a total of 23 fish that morning. Our stringer weighed heavy in the water. After a giant breakfast of sausage and eggs on an English muffin, we cleaned our fish and sat down to gather a game plan for the remainder of the afternoon. It was getting hot and the wind was picking up. We watched through the three large windows in the front of the cabin as the chop on the water turned to swells and soon white caps could be seen on the lake. Too rough to fish, almost too hot to fish as well.
“Now what do you want to do?” I asked Pops.
A nap was out of the question as the temperatures in the cabin were rising steadily and the wind was out of the south so not much breeze was blowing through the windows.
“I’m going to go out on the dock and check the wind and waves,” I told him.
Exiting the cabin I made my way down the steps and once I was a few yards away from the cabin the breeze, or rather I should say, the wind, gusted through the brushy openings in the forest and washed my face with wonderful refreshment. I made it down to the dock and stood there, in nothing but shorts and sandals, with my arms spread apart, (reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic) soaking up the cooling wind. It was strong and blowing steady.
I rushed back up to the cabin. “Grab a cold beer and a lawn chair, Pops, it feels great out by the water.” We plucked a few cold ones from the cooler and headed down to the dock where we sat and had a few beers until the sun began to outweigh the wind and we retreated to the shade. We found a nice spot where the shade met with a little breeze and there we sat and enjoyed the scenery, each other, and a few cold beers.
Only after a while did my bad habits creep in and I began to feel like I should be doing something.
“We should have brought some cards or dice or something,” I told Pops.
“Yeah, I didn’t think of that either,” he said. “I figured we would be too busy fishing.”
I glanced around the cabin and the surrounding woods. I had an idea. I had brought my hatchet and a small folding saw. Now I just need the perfect specimen to work a little magic. After a few seconds of searching, I spied it. It was tucked under the cabin, hiding under a sheet of plywood. Just the end of it was poking out.
“I’m going to make us some dice,” I told Pops.
His eyebrows scrunch up, “You’re what?”
“I’m going to make some dice,” I re-iterate.
He just shakes his head. “Only you,” he says. “Only you.”
It was a scrap piece of 2x6 pine board under the cabin that I had found. I took my saw and began to make a long cut, with the grain, several inches long. Then I made several cuts against the grain essentially cutting the lumber into cubes. Once I had the rough shape we retreated back into the cabin where I searched through the cupboards and found a cheese grater. I used the cheese grater to “sand and finish” the cubes.
Once I had the shape I wanted and the dice were fairly consistent with one another all I had to do was put the dots on them. I had also brought my small plumbing torch to help light camp fires so I unpacked that and removed a nail that was stuck in the wall of the bathroom (to hang towels on) and by holding the nail in the flame of the torch I could get it cherry red. I simply kept reheating the nail head until I had all the dice made.
Once the dice were made I found a scrap piece of paper and created a Yahtzee board. I didn’t remember all of the scores and point amounts, but we came pretty close.
That is how we spent our Sunday afternoon waiting for the weather to calm down.
Later on in the afternoon, the wind subsided enough that we piled back into the boat and fished until nightfall. Again we put the smack down on the fish with an evening total of 25 fish.
Our total so far- 63 fish in a day and a half.
Of course, we ate fish again. I mean who wouldn’t?
Journal entry for Sunday, August 16th.
Hot and windy today. Hammered the walleye. Around 50 fish total. Quite a few were in the 17”-18” range. Sat out on the dock & drank beer in the afternoon watching the whitecaps on the water. It was the only cool spot. Fishing was excellent. Hot and partly sunny – 87 degrees winds south at 15-25 mph.
Stay tuned for more…