Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

August 9th, 2003

Too Stinking Hot
By Roger Emile Stouff

Forgive me for repeating myself, but: It's just too stinking hot.

Upon conferring with folks day to day, I find that I'm not the only one who feels this way. We have all agreed that we can't remember it being this hot. Global warming? Maybe so, but whatever the cause, I need a new summer hobby.

You look around at folks on the streets these days, it's like a scene from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead: Folks walking around, slack-jawed, sluggish and slow, mumbling incoherently when you speak to them. Summertime zombies, that's what we are. We're walking the streets like zombies looking for Gatorade.

I can fish in spring and fall, or very early in the morning. But after about 10 a.m., it's just too miserably hot to stay out there.

Sunday I took off in the boat for the basin. Within an hour I had taken two bass, decent sized, and a couple of small perch.

But then the midmorning heat came in, and the fish shut their mouths and refused to say boo to me. The sweat started rolling into my eyes, making casting accurately a difficult task at best. By 11 a.m., the automatic bilge pump on the boat kicked on, and I was terrified she had sprung a leak. But no, she was just relieving herself of the gallons of accumulated sweat in the bilge.

So I went in. The ride back to the boat launch was so refreshing, I circled a couple times just to enjoy it, then finally coasted in to the ramp and the oppressive, breezeless heat. By the time I got the boat loaded, my shirt was soaked, and by the time I got home, unhooked and cleaned up the boat, all I could do was go inside, shower and change clothes, and collapse on the sofa.

I barely left the house the rest of the day, sucking in air-conditioning like it was the nectar of the gods. I watched a couple of bad movies and one good one, played on the computer, wrote a little, and cussed a lot.

So either I need an air-conditioned lake, or I need a summer hobby that can be enjoyed indoors. This is not an easy proposition. I hate being stuck inside. I am an outdoorsy kinda guy. While I had been considering a new boat building project, Sunday's fishing trip forced me to realize that the last thing I want to be doing is working outside on a boat.

Fishing and boat-riding are the only water sports I enjoy. I don't ski, tube, hydroslide or swim. Not to say that I can't swim, but I grew up with repetitive inner ear problems, and my early years were pretty much swimless, so it's not a pastime I grew fond of. I can swim well enough to save my life (I think) should the boat overturn or something, but recreationally, not my cup of tea.

Perhaps I could take up painting. Gary Drinkwater, a local artist of considerable talent, recently sent me a lovely work he recently created, for which I am most grateful, and it got me to thinking maybe I want to try painting. But then I realized, as talented as Gary is, maybe we had better strike a deal: I won't paint, if he doesn't take up writing. I might get outgunned!

One of the local area's most talented artists is Francis Todd, whose work with film is magnificent and many times hauntingly beautiful. But Francis specializes in outside photography, so there we go again. Much as I love photography, the idea of photographing fruit baskets on my kitchen table just doesn't float my boat.

"Maybe you could work on the house, cheesehead," you say. This is true, except that in order to do so, I have to go out to the shop. It's miserable in the shop, and going in and out is surely a guarantee of pneumonia.

I started trying to tie fishing flies. It's difficult, considering my vision is so poor, but it's an inside job. I started by tying some simple flies called the Jitterbee, a Louisiana-created little jewel for bluegill which looks like a bee. The Jitterbee is tied with chenille, which is pretty coarse stuff, and I can just about see it well enough that I tied a half dozen of the worst looking Jitterbees ever. They look like there was a bad gene pool in the hive, and I doubt any self-respecting perch will have anything to do with it.

Then I wanted to experiment with more traditional flies using feathers and fur. I was creating some monstrosity which vaguely resembled a One Eyed One Armed Flying Purple People Eater when I decided that it needed a little hairy fluff on the tail to finish it off nicely. I also decided it needed to be black and tan. I had no black and tan deer hair in my fly tying box.

Then I spied Patches, my beloved tortoise shell calico cat, napping on the sofa.

She opened one eye to watch me suspiciously as I approached with the scissors.

"Just a little nip," I said. "You'll never miss it."

She yawned, and flexed her claws. I got the idea, and finished off the fly with some red and yellow I already had. Really doesn't matter. The fly resembles a nuclear waste-mutated Junebug suffering from lycanthropy. It's also so big I would probably need a tarpon rod to cast it.

So that's out as a summer hobby. I figured then that, since I couldn't actually build a real boat, I might build model boats and ships. I started looking at models of boats I like on the Internet: Chris-Craft runabouts, the U.S.S. Constitution, stuff like that. Model kits cost an arm and a leg and a firstborn son thrown in. I could almost build a real boat for what the models cost. Since most of my monthly pay is going to the electric bill from running the air-conditioner and copious amounts of consumable liquids, there's no money left over for model boats.

Crochet? Ha. Whittling? I'd slice my thumb off, and the mess is terrible, all those shavings mixed with blood. Cooking? I've gained too much weight from laying around on the sofa all summer already. Body building? I've built enough body from laying around on the sofa all summer already, thank you very much.

Now and then I go outside when it gets near dark just to survey the ranch. I am fearful that the vinyl siding will melt off the house, but so far so good. I check to make sure Mocha has plenty of water and isn't roasted. Now and then I think about cutting the grass, but usually decide it's still too hot. Besides, if I let it grow enough, perhaps it'll create a canopy over my whole lot, like in those haunted house movies, and provide perpetual shade. At that point, the undergrowth will die off from lack of light, and I can sell the lawnmowers and weed eater for some cash.

If you're thinking this entire column sounds suspiciously like it originated from the mind of a heat stroke victim, you're probably right. It's too stinking hot. ~ Roger

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