Sunday, October 17, 2004

Dead Things

17 October, 2004 Payback today.

Those long sunny walks on a sparkling beach, those views of rainbowed cloud and autumn orange on Bear Kill ridge, are getting paid for today. Went up the Hoko Ozette road the other day, just to check out all the little streams that run into the Hoko. Mainly because the fishing rules on them aren't so stringent as on the Hoko or Lake Ozette, and we might have been able to pick up a nice trout or two.

We'd already been up there the last few weeks, to pick mushrooms. You don't want to go picking mushrooms with Dan – it's like a military campaign. On the best day, we lunged and ducked around through the underbrush for two and a half hours, until we had thirty pounds of Chanterelles and White Sheep Polypore, mostly, with a handful of Puffballs, Honeys and Angel Wings. We've got bottle after bottle of pickled Chanterelles and salted Polypores in the refrigerator. We won't need meat for the rest of the year – or fish. I've been cooking the mushrooms in a little water, and the juice ends up in a steadily concentrating broth that we use to make sauce or cook pasta in. Forget beef stock – you've never had rich fulfilling broth until you've cooked about four changes of mushrooms in the same water, and strained it for pine and fir needles. Needles are to mushrooms as bones are to fish – you just have to pick one out now and then. It's worth it.

Speaking of meat, the stream reconnaissance turned out to be an adventure, and not a very pleasant one. We stopped at our favorite little stream-side beach on the Hoko, and got proof, once again, as though anybody needed it, that human beings are filthy monkeys. The place reeked of rotten flesh, and as we walked down the stream, it began to smell like an old outhouse. We soon found the sources – somebody had just taken a big old toilet-papered dump, right there on the bank, where the water could get at it. Don't be telling me that humans are any different from any other monkey. We shit in clear water, or near it. And don't tell me you don't – checked out your toilet tank lately? If you're not using your gray-water to flush with, you're shitting in the drinking water, you monkey you.

And right next to the pile of shit (man-sized, of course, because they're just closer to monkeys, and anybody who knows about those broken chromosomes they have can tell you that) – was, in a kind of altar, a stack of rotting long elk-bones, with a decomposing arrangement of bits of hides and the heads of the young bulls with the tops of their heads whacked off, to take the antlers. I mean, Jesus, there aren't enough clear-cuts up here to dump rotten elk bits in the middle of? If nothing else, for Raven to find. I mean, don't these hot-shot hunters know that Raven is the Wolf Bird, and without wolf, the Man Bird, and once he figures out that humans rip open carcasses, he'll tell you where the elk and deer are? Rather than warning anybody else about you, he'll cooperate.

But noooooo, we've got to follow our monkey instincts, and dump the rotten carcasses next to the river. Some hunters. Some monkeys.

And when that's been considered, and the memory set in our minds, our trip up to see streams got screwed up when the bug's brakes decided to go completely soft on that twisty, humpy road. Oh, was that ever entertaining. When we got back, the local guy had no idea how to fix a bug, without taking three days to do it. And he sure as heck didn't have a replacement master cylinder for the leaking one we got now. So I blew half my AAA towage mileage sending the car into Port Angeles. A

And now the phone's gone out, because the wire outside has been dinged. But now the gods will leave me alone – because they finally drove me to jumping up and down and cursing them really loudly. They never lay off until I blow up, and then they quit. And I can't fish now, because last week I caught a 15-inch greenling, and her belly was full of eggs. So I let her go, and I can't fish until January, when the spawning season is over. So all I can do is sit home and write and draw and try to figure out how to color pages on the computer. Oh fricking boy.

(The neighbor, Joel, came over, and we sat in the rain and hooked the phone up again. And then his wife, Chris, came over and we sat around drinking wine in front of the fire and having long discussions, and boy did I need those).

Cross your fingers on the car.

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