Well, the fishing season is close to winding
down around here, so what shall we talk about
for the winter?
It's possible the weather will cooperate more
than I expect. Last year, I was catching fish
on New Year's Day. But cooler weather has come
early this year, and high winds have muddied
most of the water around these parts. There may
be more trips in the future, but I think they
may be few.
Sure, I know you can catch fish in cold water.
I know it rarely snows and never does it ice-over
here, this is south Louisiana, for cryin' out loud.
But this lil' Indian just can't tolerate cold
weather. I can sweat out summers with little to
no problem, though it's getting a tad more difficult
as I grow older. Cold just makes me miserable. So
you won't find me out fly-casting in the forties
But if the weather is halfway tolerable, I hope
to get some work done on the skiff I'm building.
It's in the back of the house, though, and the
back of the house catches the north wind. So
that may be out, too.
In fact, if I were able, I'd probably just shut
myself up in the house and not come out again
until spring. How you folks north of Interstate
10 live up there, I'll never understand. Snow
is pretty and all. I saw it twice. It snowed
during a Boy Scout camping trip I was on in 1976.
It snowed again in about 1988. You understand,
saying "it snowed" in Louisiana means it was
fifty percent sleet, and got perhaps two inches
thick at most. We had to collect nearly every
ounce of snow-sleet from three or four yards
to make one dwarf snowman on the Rez. It lasted
about two days, too, at which point everything
became a muddy mess.
There's nothing like a warm, cozy house in the
winter. Much preferrable to a frigid breeze on
an open lake, I can tell you. I take my fishing
seriously, and go as often as I can. But to
forsake a toasty seventy-eight degrees minimum
house for a forty-degree boat ride to a lake to
fruitlessly cast for bluegill or bass in water
the color of well-milked coffee, well, you can
have it, guys.
My girl is a fan of winter. She hates hot weather,
loves it cold. One winter a couple years ago we
were sitting around the house and she suggested
we go out.
"You mean out there?" I said, indicating the door
with a nod of my chin.
"Yes," she said. "'Out there' is pretty much the
definition of 'going out.'"
"It's forty degrees 'out there'," I said.
"Wait until it gets cold!" she pointed out.
I could be a bear, and hibernate for the winter,
but for some reason I still can't comprehend,
my employer refuses to allow it. What's the problem?
Who's going to the paper box to get the paper in
the winter anyway? Do people really do that? I
seriously doubt it. I love my job, but trust me,
before I'd get out of the house to go get a
newspaper from the paper box or the yard, I'd
stick a baby bottle nipple on a fifth of scotch
and watch CNN for my news.
"You ought to start hunting," some folks tell me.
"It passes the time between fishing seasons."
My father was not a hunter, so I guess that's
why I never got into it. Early on, though, I
knew why he never hunted, and I never would.
The idea of sitting in a duck blind or deer
stand, with the possibility of rain – freezing
rain! – holding onto a cold steel gun barrel
or walnut stock just makes me want to go start
a raging bonfire.
Last weekend, the temperatures were just in the
mid-fifties. The wind was up, giving a
considerable wind-chill factor. I went out and
stared at the boat three times Saturday, wearing
fleece socks under my boots, jeans, a flannel
shirt and lined jacket. As I stood there
thinking about going fishing, teeth-chattering,
I realized what a pansy I am. What's a little
cold? I told myself. It's not cold. Mid-fifties?
Ha. That's a heat wave in some places. Be a man,
go catch a mess o'bluegill for supper, make the
women-folk proud of you, you dashing, brave,
valiant fly angler!
Instead, I went into the house to watch movies
Who thought of this whole wind chill thing,
anyway? It's not enough to be stinking,
miserably cold, they have to let you know
that it's really colder than you think it
is, when you factor in the wind chill. I
didn't need to know that. I measure cold
by the amount of dental work necessary
after winter is done.
It's like a heat index, but in reverse. Heat
indexes and wind chill are stupid. It's cold,
or it's hot, why are we splitting hairs about
it? Step out onto the porch, if your teeth
start chattering, it's cold. In summer, if
you break out in a sweat just looking out
the window, it's hot. Wind chill and heat
index. Gimme a break.
"How do you think your ancestors did in winter?"
some people ask me. "They didn't have central
heating and fleece socks."
This kind of thinking always irritates me. I
am a pansy. My ancestors were not pansies.
They were not accustomed to central heating,
so they tolerated cold better than I can.
Besides, when it got really cold, they could
snuggle up with the missus under some buffalo
hides (yes, my people did hunt buffalo each
year in North Texas) or, if the missus were
feeling ornery, stack three or four dogs around
you and you're snug as a bug in a rug. My
ancestors were real men. I am a girlie-boy
when it comes to winter.
But the Old Man's not here yet, so perhaps
there's a few more fishing trips in store.
Cross your fingers. Otherwise, it's going
to be a loooonnggg winter coming up with
column ideas. ~ Roger