Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wild Geese

On a warm and sunny day LC and I headed to Woods Reservoir on our still-new-to-us 14 foot fishing boat.
The weather, although beautiful, was unsettled and held the promise of the rain that is supposed to arrive in this region overnight.
Before we left the house this morning my eager fisherman - who wanted to at least toss the line into the water a couple of times while we also explored other portions of the lake that we have not seen since getting the boat - showed off his latest fish catching acquisition.
LC held up this bright green lure and proudly announced to me that no self-respecting fish would dare to pass by this hook-filled beast.
I laughed and had to agree with him.
But at the same time I was also thinking "that would look good hanging on a Christmas tree."
About four years ago I had a Christmas tree in every room in the house.
A real one in the living room and both full sized artificial ones and table top ones spread out all over the place.
Two of the small trees contained make shift ornaments that I had found while scavenging through my Mountain Boys' workshop.
One tree held small silver sockets from his tool box and small red ribbons.
The other was covered with fishing lures from his tackle box.
It was our first Christmas together....................
When we arrived at the boat ramp we were surprised to see a new sign posted that read no fishing between December 1 - January 31 and that during this period the lake was a waterfowl refuge.
Did that mean the entire lake?  Did that mean we could boat but not fish?
In all of these years we had never seen such a sign before and before heading onto the lake drove to one of the base gates to see what we could find out.
About one third of the lake (the portion closest to Tims Ford Dam where we had actually planned on going) was completely off limits, but we could both fish and boat the remainder.
Reassured that Woods Reservoir was still a-go for not only today but also the next two months we headed back to the ramp.
In the beautiful and quiet cove on base where we put in the boat the water was serenely blue and calm.
During the Summers this lake is always filled with high powered motor boats that created sometimes challenging waves in years past when we were kayaking or canoeing.
Even in our larger but still light and slow boat it will continue to be challenging next year but we are both still looking forward to that time.
Today there were no power boats. 
Today there was only very quiet and it truly was a lovely day less than two weeks before Christmas.............
Coming out of the cove we turned right and headed towards the public access beach (that has only recently been closed down due to budget cuts) and the UTSI campus...............
The Cumberland Plateau in the far distance.
In a variable ever-changing sky there were long moments on the lake today when the sky was incredibly and completely clear................
My multi-tasking LC was both propelling the boat and throwing a line into the water on a regular basis.
We had been on Woods for about fifteen minutes and already he had gotten a bite on the line but lost it as he reeled the fish in.
A couple of minutes later LC got one more bite and I turned when I realized how excited he was at the size of the fish.
As he reeled it in closer to the boat and I saw this fish rolling and struggling to get free I realized that he WAS big.
LC fought to keep this maybe 10 pound fish on the line and actually hung onto him as far as the side of the boat, but eventually fish beat man and the lure was reeled back in fish less.................
One of a handful of duck blinds in this portion of the lake.
Now, as with all of them, abandoned for the season............
We soon found ourselves face to face with what looked to be a land-based sailboat storage space.
There is another large storage area adjacent to the mountain bike trails where military personnel power boats, RVs, pop-ups and trailers are stored.
I did not know until today that this sailboat area was here..............
Only a little further along the shore were a large number of docked sailboats.
Sailboats are also a regular sight in the Summer, and these have been dormant for months now.
I love the sight of tall masts laying side by side.
As we moved closer to the sailboats the wind surprisingly and dramatically picked up and the wildly rocking boat made picture taking challenging.
It was now windy and the water was very choppy but it was not cold and LC and I were having (as we always do) a wonderful time..................
Very very beautiful boats.............
By Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good,
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting,
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile, the world goes on,
Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes,
Over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers,
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination.
Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
Over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
We could see new buoys in the center of the lake and felt confident that they were markers to prevent boaters from continuing further into what for the next two months is a protected waterfowl habitat.
Neither LC nor I could figure out why the section closest to the dam was off-limits when the rest of the lake was accessible, particularly when Bird Island was close to where we put into the water, but there must be a good reason.
Both of us talked about the many birds we had seen so far during our short trip (including hawks, ducks, geese, herons and others that are unknown to me), and also talked with excitement about seeing Bird Island next Spring.
An unbelievably exciting and beautiful and almost prehistoric feeling island that in a few months will be completely filled with birds.
As we continued with our trip we decided to turn around and head back at the UTSI campus.............
We stopped briefly at the boat dock of the Boy Scout camp (the same campsite where I had a brief conversation with a nice looking base police officer who was curious why a strange woman was riding a bike around the base taking pictures):
The University of Tennessee Space Institute from the water.............
Campus housing...........
And the small boat dock and boat house that I walked at the other evening while trying to capture sunset pictures...............
We headed away from the institute and pointed the boat in the direction of the three new buoys that were located in the center of the lake, curious to see if they were indeed warnings to boaters about the far section of the lake being closed.
They were
OK.  Time to head back..............
We ended up staying on the water for about two hours and during that time saw only one other boat and one other fisherman................
Returning to our cove and the boat ramp where we began our sweet journey..............
While heading back towards Tullahoma a C-130 flew across the sky directly in front of us.
I do not know what has changed over the past two years while I was gone but something has definitely changed.
We see military planes and military helicopters on a regular basis now when that was not the case only a couple of years ago................
One last look at one of the new reservoir buoys.
A wavy, windy, quiet, sandwich eating, bird waching, almost fish catching, always beautiful trip on the water...............

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