Screaming, swearing, and no fish dinner
|By Will Jones - The Outsider | February 13, 2014
The engine screamed, its high-pitched whine audible above the loud rap
music that I’d slammed into the CD player, such was my foul mood.
The engine screamed and yet I was travelling at 60 kilometres per hour, the transmission stuck in ‘4-wheel Low’. This was to be almost the last straw in a day that I would gladly have forgotten, had the ‘I’m-gonna-blow-at-any-minute’ noise of the motor that accompanied Eminem’s potty mouth tirades not been a constant reminder.
And yet it had all started out so well.
A Saturday: chores done, a snow shoe with my lovely wife and Little Z enjoyed, and now ice fishing. I couldn’t wait. I had a lake chosen, minnows in a pail, foot warmers gently glowing in my boots and a flask of coffee to keep me company.
And then my calamitous luck began. As I pulled up at the lakeside, along a shoulder perfectly graded white by the snow plow, my car lurch sideways and I found myself wedged firmly in a ditch.
‘BUGGER!’ was one of the words not used by Eminem but most definitely uttered by me. Digging, sanding, salting, more digging, and plenty of swearing later the car was still stuck. However, a jog down the road and visit to the first house with a pick-up parked in the driveway gave me hope. Two large friendly Haliburtonians came with me to assess the problem, bringing with them a silver behemoth by the name of Dodge Ram.
As we pulled and pushed, a conservation officer, out on the lake checking fishing licenses, noticed my predicament and came over to help. His sled promptly got stuck too. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one slated for a bad day. The guys first pulled me out and then helped our friendly C.O. out too. Everyone shook hands and went on their way, my way being out onto the lake to catch the last hour and a half of daylight, the perfect time to catch a pickerel.
As I drilled my first hole through the ice I took a moment to rest (a writer’s lot is not a wealthy one and so a hand auger it has to be) and smiled as I looked back at my car. ‘Oh well, no harm done,’ I thought. Now for some fishing. I baited my first rod and walked 15 yards away to drill a second hole.
I turned to see the first rod bucking madly: a bite, already! I ran to the rod. Or I tried to run. My snowshoes tripped me up and I fell flat on my face in the snow. The rod stopped bucking. The fish was gone.
Time slowed as I sat watching the rods bob, the minnows below working their magic, hopefully. I relaxed. I drank coffee. I had to pee. Now out on a lake there is nowhere in particular to pee. You just point yourself downwind and out of eyesight of any nearby cottages. In doing this I was facing away from my lines and yes, you guessed it, another bite. An awkward combination of tucking myself back into many layers of clothing and zipping up, all the while hobbling towards the bouncing rod, caught me off balance and I slipped and put my foot squarely into the hole that my rod was perched above. The line went taut, then slack. The fish was gone and my foot was very wet.
I am the eternal optimist but darkness was fast approaching, so I quit. Gear packed onto sled, I headed across the lake to shore. All went well until I got to a large mound of snow at the lake’s edge into which were carved several snow mobile tracks. My sled skewed one way and then the other before spilling its contents onto the snow.
I swore again, a profanity somewhat stronger than ‘bugger’ and flat-footed it back to pick up my gear. After making a couple of trips to the car, everything was packed and I turned on the ignition, only to notice the 4-wheel Low light on. I turned the knob to change into all-wheel-drive but nothing happened. I tried again, and again. I turned off the ignition. And turned it on again. Still the 4-wheel Low light stayed on. ‘BUGGERBUGGERBUGGER!’ I yelled and put the car into drive. Up through the gears it shifted rather too quickly and I reached 40 kilometres per hour, the optimum cruising speed when in 4-wheel Low. The Eminem CD went on and the car screamed, at 60 kilometre per hour, all the way home. Tired, dejected, and fishless, I unpacked my gear. What a day. Stuck in a ditch; face full of snow; cold wet foot; sled upturned; and, no fish. Surely nothing else could go wrong.
It was then that I realized all my gear was not in the car. I was missing a minnow bucket and a rod. No doubt they lay on the lake where my sled had crashed.
‘BUGGER!’ I thought. I couldn’t swear. Little Z was at my side, asking where his fish dinner was.
WILL JONES - The Outsider