Follow by Email

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Fish Eagle

an osprey on the Little Miami River:





Sunday, March 28, 2010

evening flight

evening flight of geese over the marsh...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hermit's first light

Ash cave in early morning


trail camera photos

A raccoon washing food and beaver on a small beaver dam...




Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chasing the snowman


He was an old man and he had never really done anything. Anything that he thought had ever
amounted to much anyways and now he was going fishing. He pulled the old pickup off the two lane blacktop and unto the berm. Here was a spot just wide enough for the old truck and he had parked here more times than he could count. Across the road a small path led down the bank and over the old railbed to the river.
When he was young he used to walk the rails, carefully putting one foot down in front of the other with outstretched arms. Like a tightrope walker, he would see how long he could stay up before he had to step off. He remembered how he used to look up the track and see the heat shimmer in waves above the steel and gravel in the summer sun. Waves of heat that made the water of the river seem shockingly cold when later he waded to fish for smallmouth bass.
Now the tracks themselves were gone. The steel rails and the ties all ripped up. Both his uncles had worked on the railroad and he remembered how his uncle used to call the ties sleepers. He said they were called sleepers because it took a whole crew of men to keep them lying in their beds. The earliest dream he could ever remember was a nightmare where all the sleepers woke up and somehow became terrifying monsters. Wooden zombies that chased his young psyche. Now the railbed was covered in blacktop, a new bike and walking trail that ran almost the length of the river. Young families peddling happily past, couples out for a walk, professionals punishing themselves running past in expensive jogging suits, many more people got enjoyment from the river now. But part of him missed the railroad, missed the waves of heat rising from the tracks.
He climbed heavily out of the cab and gathered his things from the bed of the truck. A white five gallon bucket containing his fishing gear and bait, an aluminum landing net and a single fishing rod.. It was a very good fishing rod, top of the line seven or eight years ago when he had bought it. He owned several fishing rods. All of them were very good, none of them were new.
The old man started down the path, the gravel crunching under the soles of his boots. The path was mostly gravel because of the abandoned railway. Two small gnatcatchers flitted thru the bushes around him buzzing with seemingly more curiosity than anything else. They had always been one of his favorite birds and it was a good omen for the days fishing. He sat the bucket down and stood there for a moment watching the little birds hopping from branch to branch all around him. It was one of those perfect spring days that we so often picture in our minds but rarely actually see. After a long minute or two he picked up the bucket and continued down the hill to the river. That was one of the things he liked about this spot, it was good fishing but had a bank that an old man could still get down.
Soon he came to the river. The path ended on a gravel bar that extended out into the river. To his left the river poured over the end of the gravel bar and ran waist deep and fast for fifty yards before beginning a series of smaller pools and riffles stretching out of sight. Where the river gathered itself before spilling over the bar had always been one of the best smallmouth spots in the river. The old man had spent many summer evenings knee deep in the water casting a small spinner for them. Right at dark he often picked up a sauger here also. It had been a very long time since he had waded out into the fast current here. Some days he still cast a spinner to the good water he could reach from shore. The water level had just recently went down and the old man sat down his things again and walked over to a patch of wet sand and mud. It interested him to see who else was about on the river recently. The wet ground was covered in raccoon tracks and one line of deer tracks heading down to the water. The deer’s hooves were splayed wide in the soft ground and were clearer than usual. From the firm edges and still damp bits of sand kicked up he judged the track had been made this morning. Upriver a heron rose with a loud "kronk" and with heavy wingbeats flew a hundred yards further upstream before landing again. It stepped around nervously for a few seconds then flew upriver out of sight.
The old man stopped looking at the rushing water to watch the heron fly and stared upstream for a long time. Upstream the river was wide and deep. A long curving hole with the outside, and thus deepest part, was on the old man’s side of the river. Because the outside of the bend, the part that ate away at the bank, was on the old railroad's side of the river, on the old man’s side of the river, the railroad had dumped tons and tons of rock and concrete rubble along the bank. Huge slabs of stone and concrete from as small as a washing machine to as big as a small car lie on the bank and out into the water. His dad and uncles always called this hole "the big rocks" for obvious reasons. They had named every hole and riffle in the river and he often thought of making a map with all the names written on it.
He knew the names were on the verge of being lost, that in this day of fast cars and highways, none took the time to know one river the way they had known this one. People loved to talk about all he had seen in his lifetime, all the new things that had came along. It’s funny, he thought, that when they said that all that came to his mind was all the things that had been lost. His grandson could program the DVD player and according to his daughter-in-law was a genius on the computer but the old man doubted he could even find his way home from here. Actually he had thought VCR instead of DVD player and had to correct himself. For everything gained there was something lost, the old man was sure of that. The old man sighed, picked up his bucket and headed upriver.
A faint path followed the river and wound over and around the huge rocks. The old man walked very slowly, carefully looking before every step. In one spot the path went right up and over a big slab of concrete and it took him a long time. He stopped when he was back on the ground and leaned back against the stone, his breathing slightly heavy. Up thru the trees he could hear a couple kids laughing as they whizzed by on the bike trail. A big carp jumped in the hole and the old man smiled. He didn’t believe it had anything to do with the fishing, but he liked it when fish were jumping. Another good omen he thought.
It took the old man twenty minutes to work his way about a hundred yards upstream from where he first came down to the river. Here a huge slab of concrete lay on its side like a huge table. An equally huge sycamore hung out over the slab. They had both been there on the riverbank long before he had been coming there and he had been coming there a very long time.
A large root of the sycamore twisted up out of the sandy soil right against the slab and the old man used this as a step to climb up on the tabletop. There was just enough room for him to sit on the edge with his legs hanging over without them touching the water. He sat down his things and carefully unloaded his bucket and then sat down. Beside him he arranged a small box of hooks, a pair of needlenose pliers and his bait jar. On his other side he placed the landing net within easy reach.
He rummaged around in his pockets and soon came out with a small swiss army knife. This knife had a tiny set of scissors and he used these to snip his line loose from where it was tied to the first guide on his rod. Even with knobby fingers drawn up with arthritis he expertly tied on a small treble hook. He had always been good at doing little things with his fingers and could still do many things better than most people. He remembered then how his brother used to ask him to tie on lures when they fished together on dark nights. He pulled the knot tight slowly testing it by grabbing the line a foot or so above the hook and pulling as hard as he could. Satisfied he reached for his bait jar. He knew something plastic and less fragile like a tupperware bowl would have been more practical but for some reason he was attached to the old jar he kept his bait in. He couldn’t remember where he had first gotten it but he had kept it for years now. It was about the size and shape as a small coffee can, light green glass with a galvanized tin screw top lid. He unscrewed the lid and pinch off a marble sized piece of bait. He had that morning made a dough of wheaties corn flakes, hamburger and mustard. With that he had at one time or another managed to catch most of the bottom feeding fish in the river such as the different kinds of catfish and freshwater drum and carp. When he was young he had taken some good natured ribbing from some of his bass and trout fishing buddies for his carp fishing but he had always felt a fish was a fish. It had always been his philosophy that all other things being equal the guy that had also caught catfish and drum and even bluegills from a place would do better on the flashy gamefish too in the long run.
Upstream from where he sat was the deepest slowest part of the entire hole. He sat watching this deep water as he molded the doughball unto his hook. About twenty yards away the current curled back on itself along the back and almost stopped. There he cast his doughball. The old man carefully lay the rod beside him on the concrete slab. He flipped the bail so a big fish could take line without pulling in his rod. He pulled a quarter out of his pocket and lay it on top of the loose line to keep it from pulling off the reel in the slight current of the hole.
The old man breathed deeply, the wet musky smell of the river and the mud making him smile. He looked up at the blue sky watching the warm breeze sway the tops of the trees now busting with tiny new leaves. When he looked down the line was no longer under the quarter and a great deal of it was rushing away downriver. He carefully picked up the rod spinning the handle to engage the bail and set the hook. The rod bounced up and down in place and then the line rushed out even faster than before. The old man held the rod high letting the bend in the rod cushion the line and soon the fish turned planing diagonally across the river. A couple more minutes and a big carp was lying half on its side finning in the water at the old man’s feet. He carefully and slowly reached over and found the landing net by feel, never taking his eyes off the fish. He slowly lowered the net in the water and then leaned forward and scooped up the fish. Or tried to, as the net went under the fish it suddenly came back to life and shot out into the river, line screaming off the reel. Three more minutes and he scooped again this time netting the fish. The fish was heavy for the old man as he swung it up onto the flat stone. It flopped wildly and it took the old man a little too long to unhook it and return it to the river. It just sort of lay there working its gills and fins for a moment before scooting out of sight into deeper water. The old man was tired but happy as he slowly rebaited and cast again.
He leaned back on one elbow enjoying the spring sunshine and his thoughts wandered back once again to the long gone railroad. When he was a younger man he often became restless and spent many days just walking the tracks for miles. He remembered how one winter how it had been bitter cold with snow and ice for a couple weeks and then the weather broke warm and sunny. That day he set off down the tracks and found a set of footprints made out of ice and snow on the bare wet ground and ties. Sometime in the past week someone had walked that way and compacted the snow allmost into ice so that when things warmed all that remained were their footprints. At least that's what logic told him, his heart saw them as some special magical tracks of a snowman getting the hell out of there as it warmed. He followed the snow tracks for miles and turned for home knowing he would be walking in the dark before he made it home. It was then he saw that all the tracks of snow he had followed all day were gone in the evening sun.
The warm spring sun made the old man sleepy and his last thoughts before nodding off were of the snowman tracks and how he hadn’t thought of them in years. Sometime later the line slipped once more from under the quarter and zipped off unnoticed. The line caught on the bail and the rod pulled of the rock and landed in the river with a small plop. The old man never stirred for he had quietly passed there in the warm spring sunshine.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Legend of the Chupacabra....



Today while exploring the depths of the great dismal swamp. There among the cypress, lying atop the muck and mire deep within this great moor, I found a skull.



Great dark birds flashed overhead, allmost it seemed guarding the resting place of the macabre skull.





I nervously left, barely making it out before darkness fell. Could this have been the lair of the Chupacabra??????




Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bridges and Buffalo

First is the Busching Bridge built in 1885 just outside of Versailles at the western edge of Versailles State Park. What a pretty bridge in a lovely quiet setting, just like you picture in your head when someone says covered bridge



Just past the bridge on a hill overlooking the covered bridge is a beautiful little farm that had a herd of buffalo. The lady was nice enough to let me snap a few pictures.





Finally there's the Medora Covered Bridge on State Road 235, the longest covered bridge in the United States. At 458 feet long it's hard just to get in one photo frame and an amazing site! It was built in 1875 by Joesph Daniels who built over 60 covered bridges In Indiana. It took about nine months to build.
The cost was: $18,142. The bridge is a bit run down and could use a bit of restoring. Considering it's amazing size and historic significance hopefully this will happen before the bridge deteriorates too much. You know me I'm allways driving out in the middle of nowhere to take pictures of covered bridges and this is the most incredible one I've ever seen





Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The cranes

Sandhill cranes from Ewing bottoms and Muscatatuck in southern Indiana. With wingspans of six to eight feet and standing close to five feet tall when they gather in flocks of thousands in the flooded fields in winter it's an awe inspiring sight. Their loud calls can be heard for miles. One of the reasons for this remarkably loud and penetrating call is an unusual windpipe. In most birds the trachea passes directly from the throat to the lungs, but in Sandhills it is elongated by forming a single loop which fills a cavity in the sternum. With their wierd calls and odd appearance it's easier to believe that birds are the descendants of the dinosaurs, Sandhills are omnivorous. Sandhill Cranes are generalists and feed on a wide variety of plant tubers, grains, small vertebrates such as mice and snakes, and invertebrates such as insects or worms. Cranes do a great deal of digging with their bills, often penetrating several inches below the surface in search of a morsel. Animals such as snails, crayfish, worms, mice, birds, frogs, snakes, and many kinds of insects are consumed. They also devour acorns, roots, various seeds and fruits, and browse vegetation. Most of the cranes I saw spend the summer in Canada and will leave in the next couple weeks.Sandhill Cranes mate for life and pairs return to the same nesting locations year after year. Cranes can live up to twenty five years at least in the wild and have lived for fifty in captivity.


















DSC_3698 copy