Sunday, September 16, 2012

On September 15 2012, I needed a jacket as I left the house for an early evening bike ride. On the day of the perch, enjoy the remains of summer, less than a week. Saturday, six days hence, fall begins.


We have enjoyed our last Saturday of Summer 2012. I Google to confirm
this fact and Google reports before the search list: The astronomical
summer (Northern Hemisphere) began Wednesday, June 20, 2012, and ends
Friday, September 21, 2012. Saturday, September 22, 2012 shall mark
the arrival of fall in the northern hemisphere. I am still sleeping
with a window open, but it draws in cold air. I use a winter blanket
and assume that fresh, cold air is good for me. I am looking out that
window at the final reaches of Cress Creek, and I see that the slough
that begins in the cattails has a current. I am guessing that slough
is fed by a spring that gathers water from the high, cliffy land
across the marsh. I can see this current because the water is drawn
down so low, and the little pond where creek and slough meet has
vanished, revealing a confluence of two currents. Even Cress Creek has
revealed flat sand islands, and the current runs around them. Where
lily pads once flourished, a carpet of this small, green leafy plant
has sprouted, and it's too tiny to show characteristics I can use for
identification. I am guessing these seeds laid dormant under the water
until the waters receded. I had hoped the water had traveled in a
seiche. Seiches return the water within a few days. I am now wondering
if Cress Creek is delivering much less water after our summer of
drought. Yet, the drop was sudden, overnight. I am wondering if
upstream, a neighbor in my watershed has taken to hoarding water?

We had an evening of rain Friday, but much less than an inch fell. I
also am seeing a low water level on Black Creek, which has a watershed
that reaches further than Cress, as far out as the Wastewater
Treatment facility on Apple Road. I am wondering if I can call the
Annis Water Resources Institute a file a help desk ticket of some sort
and alert the water doctors working for AWRI?

Last night, I set out for the Lakes Mall area, looking for supper and
an evidence of city life. I like to take Hile Road to Harvey, and the
road was closed. I was wondering "how closed" it was. No sign at the
corner of Grand Haven and Hile had announced the closure. So people
had to drive almost to the barricades to learn about the closure. The
same was true on Harvey, and numerous cars had to make a U-turn at the
barricade on Harvey. I picked my way around the road construction. The
next road over the freeway stood two miles south, the Sternberg

I found a brightly lit bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and ordered a cup of
coffee. I noticed a woman working over a manuscript in a three ringed
binder, filling out numerous three by five cards with editing
suggestions, suggestions for modifying her digital copy at home. I had
to ask what she was doing. When a person looks interesting, I ask. She
had been inspired by the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin
College to write a Christian novel, and this had driven her to write
two drafts in the last four years. She had been raised as a Baptist,
but her spiritual crisis after marriage had led her to convert to
Catholicism, where she found a deeper tradition of spiritual writing.
I wished her well, and I had to wonder how long until I heard about
this novel in the paper. That novel had to contain some powerful

I sat at the bar of Logan's and ordered a steak. Logan's serves later
than Brann's, which has this insipid bar menu after 10:00 PM. I only
liked the boneless wings on that menu, but Applebee's has long offered
their boneless wings at half-price after nine. Brann's stands next
door to Buffalo Wild Wings, which has more televisions monitors that
NORAD's situation room and an endless supply of wings. As I shelled
peanuts at Logans, a waitress came up to me and challenged me, "I bet
you don't remember me!" I saw something familiar in her features, but
found myself dumbfounded.

She went on, "I used to wait on you at Alleyways, but I've chopped my
hair shorter". She looked down, "And I've gained some weight". A few
years ago, I would have said, "Well, I wouldn't kick you out of bed
for eating graham crackers". Instead I said, "Oh yes, I remember you
now!" I was wondering where this was going, and I thought of telling
her I was going to the Old Homestead next. She invited me to come in
and see her during lunch and ask for her by name. I agreed so. I never
get down to the mall area for lunch. We chatted again as she swept up
a day's worth of peanut shells from the cement floor behind my back.
"It's easier to sweep up the shells from the floor at the end of the
night than to pick them off of the table when bussing. Most people
think we have a powerful peanut vacuum, but it's just broom and dust
pan". So I swept my peanut shells off the counter onto the floor, on
the part of the floor she hadn't reached yet.

I was amazed at how quickly I made it from Logan's to the Old
Homestead, with my legs pumping the pedals like unconscious pistons. I
was feeling depressed as I had departed my place for a bike ride, but
the feel of the road rumbling in the handle grips had perked me right
up. I am not comfortable staying at home for longer than the time it
takes to sleep and maybe write two thousand words. Saturday's DJ had a
projector, and since I remember the old MTV, I found my eyes glued to
the screen, watching the videos. He brought half the women in the bar
out to the floor for the Cupid Shuffle, and kept five of them going
for the shuffle that has been composed for "Taking Care of Business".
I guess it is good to know which women can thrust back during
missionary position sex. One of the dancers was waiting for a drink
beside me, and she had her cash on the bar top. We smiled at one
another and I said, "You should drink for free! You're part of the
entertainment". She laughed all the way up and down her body. We
chatted more. Friday, she has shown up for the karaoke by DJ on the
Run, but her friend had a family issue Friday nights. So Saturday had
become her Old Homie night. The DJ put, "I'm On a Boat", on the big
screen and she rushed to join her circle of five women out on the
dance floor. "Holy Shit!" she exclaimed as she bolted for the dance
floor. Could that conversation be saved?

West Michigan has a madness for the yellow perch, which we call the
yellow belly perch at times. The Buster Keaton Convention, which comes
to town in October, finds a restaurant to cook up yellow perch
according to a recipe that Keaton enjoyed during his stays in the
actor's colony of Bluffton. On a slow night, get Rob of the West Side
Inn to discourse about the difference between Yellow Perch and Zander,
and the scandalous passing off of zander as perch. You won't have to
say a word for a half-hour. The West Side Inn serves its yellow perch
dinner as a special during the Tuesday performances of Truth and Jazz
Orchaestra, one of the best prices for a good perch dinner in West
Michigan, around ten dollars. The TIJO performance is a free show, and
Rob walks around with a tip jug and drops a twenty into the jug when a
patron chips in a twenty, a nice match. Elsewhere, the perch dinner
has sold for the same price as shrimp or fish of the day flown in from
the east coast, around sixteen to seventeen dollars a plate.

I loved to catch perch in the summer, when I fished every day off of
my neighbor's dock on Euler Lake. The perch were easy enough to see in
the clean water, suspended between the weeds and the lily pads. Catch
and release couldn't be practiced with the Yellow Perch, which almost
always swallowed the hook. Removal with needle nose pliers often
caused the fish to bleed from the mouth, so it was best to clean and
eat it. PETA doesn't support even catch and release fishing, and has
compared the hobby to fur trapping in cruelty.

My brother Matt landed a big perch one summer afternoon, and it was
the first one I saw up close. I think he had turned eleven in January
and I was about to turn eleven in September. I was so excited to see a
perch, and I attempted a powerful cast to throw my bobber and hook
just beyond the lilly pads, where he had hooked his. Instead, I caught
his back on the back cast, and the powerful throw forward set the barb
through his skin. My grandfather rushed him to the hospital, and I had
to wait at home, feeling guilty and ashamed. The hook came out easily
when the emergency room doctor cut the barb off and pulled the
barbless shaft out of the skin. I wasn't punished and my parents never
mentioned it to me. My brother got into piercings in his twenties, and
now sports a nipple piercing, a nose piercing and a belly button
piercing. That has nothing to do with our summer catching perch.

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