Tuesday, October 17, 2006

more fall melancholy

It's been weird weather here; the winds last week blew all the leaves off the trees so it looks very gray and November-like, and now although it's been warm (40-50 degrees) at night, it's been gray and misty and dreary during the daytime hours.

I spent today working walleye ponds; that is, going to the small natural ponds where we stock walleye fry in the spring, hoping they will grow into six inch or so walleyes to stock into larger lakes in the fall. It's pretty much a hit-or-miss operation; it is essential that the ponds "winterkill" the winter before, their oxygen levels dropping enough to kill off all fish life in the pond, so the young walleye will not have any competitors for food. And this year seems to have been a bad year for walleye production; the fingerlings I saw were very small, not the fat and happy six inchers or more that we like to see.

Our harvest today was pretty dismal, less than fifty pounds, so we decided to pull the nets from the ponds, it was not worth it to keep them in. Of course we ran up against some second-guessing from my boss, but he was not out there walking a boat over mud flats because the water levels were so low.

We stocked what we got into a beautiful lake, one of many that Minnesota has to offer. The public access is located just yards from a small dam and outlet, and that is not the ideal situation to stock fish because they will likely be swept over the dam. So we went to a resort on the lake, deserted for the fall it seemed, and stocked the fish there where they would have a better chance. It was so quiet, no one around, no boats out on the water and the water dead calm. I looked up and down the lake and saw the mist meeting the water and the bare branches of the trees. All dreadful and lovely at the same time.

The fish I stocked today were most likely drops in a bucket. But being out today, being forced to be out, was priceless. Tomorrow I'll be outside, dipping muskies from a drainable pond, not quite the same experience. That's one of the benefits of my job: lots of time outside, and no two days are the same.

7 comments:

Pecos Blue said...

Sounds great hope they make it and fatten up next year.

Laura said...

All dreadful and lovely at the same time
Yes, just so. I feel sorry for the people who can't or won't see the loveliness.

Anonymous said...

But hope grows with every spring!

Anonymous said...

"Dreadful and lovely" is such an evocative phrase, Deb, perfectly said.

the dharma bum said...

wonderful post deb. i'm envious of you getting to be outside so often, even if some days are more fun than others. i truly love this time of year, with its quiet and the leaves down and things gray and... "dreadful and lovely," indeed.

Floridacracker said...

There's a lot to be said for a job that fits your last line.

Deb said...

pecos blue- welcome! And yes, I hope they survive and grow. The odds are sometimes stacked way against them.

laura- I feel sorry for them too. It's all a choice.

lynne- yes it does. And spring is...ummm...well, we have all of the beauty of winter to get through first! :)

madcap- I'm beginning to think I do some of my best writing when I've silenced my inner editor with a beverage or two...;) Seriously, some of my best stuff happens when I don't really think about what I'm writing, I just let it happen.

dharma bum- yes, the "dreadful" part comes from not being quite acclimated to cold, and knowing we are in for many more months of this. But there is beauty, and that lake was just so beautiful in its bare gray state.

FC- Yes, sometimes I complain about it but really I can't see myself doing anything else, that is, if I have to be employed. :)