I have that fresh-showered, in comfy-cozies, apres-camp thing going on right now. Our trip was a great success. D1 caught her first fish, on the first cast, and that was worth the whole everything. It was somewhat anticlimactic though, because we didn’t catch another one that night. Better, I think, to have to work hard at it for a couple of goes, than to get one right off the bat, or pole, or rod, or what have you. Minus a few sleeping bag accidents by tired, tired two-going-on-three year-olds, our family fun time went off without a hitch. Note to Me: make disposable, biodegradable sleeping bag liners for the parents of two-lings, and make millions of monies and retire to just camp and lake and stream.
It’s funny, we had great weather, for the most part, and the day it was overcast I managed to convince D1 that our sun salutations on the sand made the sun stronger and able to come through the clouds, and that the big weather in the distance would miss us if we gave our hearts to the sun. Corny as it sounds, even I believed it by the time we were done. Plus, I think there are big lessons to be learned from camping in stormy weather. Raindrops on the tent fly kind of lessons.
I did poem every day, but all I have at the end of it is a bunch of random poem shards. I’m gonna try to link the fragments up, and post them as three connected poems, and call it good. Here’s to you, Koocanusa.
6/23 Off We Go to Koocanusa
In a North Woods summer, you have to get it all over your skin. It should smell so sweaty and sweat and sunscreen all over your skin that you want to lick it off. Driving the packed car along the greening Clark Fork river, you should be grateful for the broken AC that forces the windows down and the hands out, planed and flying on the airwaves, jamming to the big journey. Every county has a Dry Creek and every Dry Creek has a homestead collapsing in grey, and both a Bad and Good Medicine, and every punky, falling board has whispers. Whisper to me in the dark, Koocanuuuuusa. Whisper to me camplit, whisper to me the voice of this place, electric before we had a name for it, the zappy jittering force of it, whisper to me in big water that cuts deep into the land, whisper to me, whisper, Koocanusa.
6/24 The Lake Koocanusa Monster
I’m only doing this to you because it was done to me. Granted, with another lake. How this spooking feels like duty, like the weight of your safety depends on this story of the Lake Koocanusa Monster, how this frighting will become your history. She feasts only on the bravest girls about to go into Kindergarten, and if they don’t get their heads all the way in, she eats them all up, toes first. It’s true, I’m told. It’s delicious, this fear, we are gooey with it, we are covered in it, we lick it off our fingertips. These are the memories, smokey and priceless and twilit, when you jump into it, you do it then with glee and terror, you make long shadows with the flashlight, and pretend your bravery. Pretend you don’t believe and then gasp, horror-struck, when the lakeweeds grab you and you think you are going under for sure, to pay the cost of your fear, gasp at the recognition of your belief in the monster.
Keep it in the background, always, your fear and belief, this is how you were taught to fear death, in the waves that cover your head, these are fireside terrors that buoy you up through deep times, these are the ones that come back in the deep water. This is the trick that keeps you from any kind of cocoon later, this is the knowledge of the near-drowned, it is the way we we trick ourselves into the great disbelief, this is the way we remember when we are old, a bump and a thrill at the notion of her terrible lakeweed hair and flipper legs and skin of mud, her one eye hot and green up from the black water. This is the water story that calls in trills and whipporwills from the bottoms, of course the birds tell it right, looking as they do from on high, looking as they do from above. The story is, as usual, in birdsong, in the trilling oh-yeahs that they do in the sunset very near, it is the story of listening and watching from the aerie, it is the story of the ones who have always watched from up there. Can they see her terrible teeth and claws, the knowledge that she shows the wind where to go, they know that if she ever crawls out, laughing and clowning, that it is best to hide. They, the hawks, are the ones who are watching us go down to the sandy bottom, who watch us dive in our defiance, down more, more, more,
closer to the danger and wisdom.
A three-in-one.Does it count?i hope so… Happy, I think Wednesday, I think.