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Tom Chaney 17 Jan. 2010, No. 237: Minnesota Dreaming

Of Writers and Their Books, 17 January 2010 essay Minnesota Dreaming
The next earlier Tom Chaney essay: Crime and Punishment by the Quire

By Tom Chaney
Email: Tom Chaney

Minnesota Dreaming

While I was living in Iowa and pretending to teach young folks about theatre, it fell that I had an invitation from a student and his father to head out to Calm Lake near Atikokan, Ontario.

I was promised walleye and pike and bass.

Now I had fished in the lakes of Hart County -- caught my first fish in the freshwater lake, read "farm pond," out on the Munfordville-Glasgow road near what is now the Horse Cave International Airport. If memory serves me aright the fish was a carp and it measured about six inches.

One fishless trip to Dale Hollow yielded buckets of rain, a flat tire on the boat trailer, and a miserable night beneath said trailer whilst my companions found a tire in the dark of the night.

So I took the promise of good fishing in Canada with a grain of salt. But off we went: the student; his father; his young brother; and your intrepid correspondent.

What I took no note of in the planning was Minnesota. Those folks who brag about the extent of Texas have never been to Minnesota.

Our plan was to cross into Canada at International Falls -- straight north from Indianola, Iowa. The distance was something under a thousand miles.

Three days later we passed Minneapolis.

In a bit less than a week we hit the border -- invading Canada with a boat, some tackle, a few potatoes, and a jug of oil -- assured we would catch more than enough to keep us fed.

Now the fishing was fine -- better than promised -- in a lake so clear that I watched a walleye take my bait thirty feet beneath the boat.

The only event to mar the trip involved the young brother. I have since learned that small children have many ways to befoul a fishing trip. This kid seized upon the worst.

In the upper reaches of Calm Lake the four of us were casting and jigging and smoking our pipe, when the little urchin let us know that he had a strike. It turned out to be a right smart of a walleye -- by far the largest of the day. His older brother laid down his pole and took up the net -- ready to get the fish in the boat.

Just as the youngster maneuvered the walleye alongside the boat, there arose a considerable flutter. The netter dipped into the turbid water and up came the walleye which had become merely bait for a healthy sized pike. Both were taken. The wretched child had outdone the three of us experienced anglers all put together.

It was a good thing that the three adults were ecologically minded; else Calm Lake would have been polluted with the remains of a very young fisherman.

Though I have seen him only on occasion since that time some thirty-odd years ago, I still bare him ill will. I believe he has entered the Lutheran ministry. I am sure his congregations over the years have been regaled with stories of those two fish. Does he know how close he came to not surviving the trip back to the dock?

Let's see. . . .

There was a reason for this tale.

Oh! Yes!


Fate has taken me to that state over the years. I wandered and learned of plastics backstage at the Guthrie Theatre for a week. I toured a play to a number of high schools in Minneapolis. I traveled to the northern wiles of Minnesota to perform a wedding for the son of good friends.

And, yes, and more permanently, my niece Corinth now dwells in an urban igloo in the frigid reaches of that place. The family traipsed to Minneapolis a couple of years ago for Christmas and snow -- of which they have enough.

This amniadversion started out to be a discussion of a new book by a favorite Minnesota writer, John Sandford. He dedicates the novel to a friend - a musky fisherman - promising to make musky fishing a no more intelligent a pastime than it actually is. And I always confuse musky with its cousin - the northern pike.

Oh! Well!

I'll get around to Sandford and his book another time.

I'm sure it was only the strong hand of providence that kept us from drowning that kid.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at:
The BOOKSTORE in Horse Cave, KY
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
(270) 786-3084
Email: Tom Chaney

To read other Tom Chaney book reviews and essays, enter "Tom Chaney" in the searchbox.

This story was posted on 2010-01-17 09:04:26
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