Kevin worked the oars, making slight adjustments. A white-fuel Coleman sat in a small wooden box at my feet and hissed warmth at my hands. The sun had made a break for it, had come pretty close to getting free but the clouds had caught him and now celebrated with a confetti party of snowflakes that drifted down at slight angles. I watched them fall on the back of my hand as I poured coffee from a thermos into a green plastic cup. When I turned and asked Kevin if he had had any sugar and he told me it was below freezing and we were on a river, in Michigan, in March, for fun, and I should grow a dick. I sipped my unsweetened beverage in silence and tried my best to follow his advice.
Michigan in March is still how I remember it: Cold and hard, desaturated and a little dirty around the edges but strong willed and with a guarded warmth that you feel most while laughing in a drift boat or smiling down the bar, lifting beers and surrounded by people you don't really know but could easily be confused for old friends.
Steve Martinez opened his house to me and made me feel at home and for that I am thankful. He stood in rubber boots and pushed wood into his outdoor furnace, answering all my cold-weather ignorant questions about wood furnaces, central boilers, and heat exchangers. A snowless path ran from the burner to the house where the water lines are buried. Earlier that day he had eased his boat to a log jam and picked a half-dozen bobbers from among the fishing flotsam while we talked about the TV show Hoarders.
I feel that the PM has been nothing but fair to me, but Kevin said after spending two weeks in March on the river, one last year, and one this year, I should have had at least one double-digit day. I don't feel slighted, though. Steelhead were caught and I believe I must be building fish karma for some future adventure, which will surely be otherworldly in its epicness.
On the last day Kevin pushed us toward the sunset and we talked about sled dogs. "The only reason you can stop those dogs," he said, "is because they believe you can stop them." I think some people live like sled dogs. Don't live like sled dogs.
-Alex who won't take whoa for an answer and is also apologetic for the lameness of that pun.
|I am never sorry I brought slippers.|