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JEAN SHEPHERD Travel–Maine part 2 (and an editorial comment)

EDITORIAL STRATEGY

People aware of my transcription/editing techniques for Shep audios–discussed in the introduction to my Shep’s Army transcribed stories, know that I do the minimum necessary: I don’t change or add to Shep’s words. I only do a tiny bit of silent adjustment for grammatical or other unintentional glitches on his part, and any changes in order and repetition are only done so that no meaning is changed.

Upon getting further into Shep’s travels, I’ve encountered that, for Internet reading (as opposed to reading of the more tolerant print-on-paper medium), a few of Shepherd’s laid-back commentaries, fine for listening, benefit from a couple of judicious cuts. Any cuts of more than a few words (as noted above) I will indicate with 4 dots (….). I believe the blog post format of Shep’s talks will benefit in this computer medium. Anyone wanting to listen to every single word of the broadcasts in question, I highly recommend that as the supreme way to get Shep’s message.

welcome to Maine

I would venture to say that nothing would rival a Maine lake at the right kind of light and the right air—everything has to be right.  And the moment it is right—oh, there’s nothing like it!  It just comes together and the water dances, the sun sort of bounces off of it and just ripples.  It looks like it’s all made out of silver and gold.  Just fantastic!  And then that fringe, that rough fringe of pine that you see just kind of lying on the horizon off in the distance.  You always see this in Maine.  Off in the distance there is a sort of green, dark purple hill rising up and down.  That’s Maine!  Always!

So here I am, I’m a very innocent guy, I’ve never been on a  Maine lake in my life and I’m just drinking this in—just beautiful, and I’m nudging this little boat, I’m exploring, I’m nudging it along in these little coves.  A big lake, it has thousands of little coves and islands and all day long I am going further and further down the shoreline.  Further and further away from what could be called the heart-line of civilization, which meant the Esso station and Charlie’s Bait Store.

So I’m getting way down there and I’m floating among these lily pads and the reeds, and now I am quietly drifting in to one of the most beautiful little bays I ever saw in my life, and hanging over the bay are these gigantic pine trees.  Just hanging over at maybe a ten degree angle, and this great green shadow drifting all the way out to the middle of the bay.  There she lay.  Talk about Bali Hai—this is it.

I just drift quietly in with the current.  And I’m putting my rod together and I reach down and I very carefully open the top of my tackle box and I spin the reel a little bit, clean the oil, I spit down on the nylon line and rub it in.  Then I look in my tackle box.  What shall I try?  Let’s see.  How about a River Runt maybe, heh?  How about a half-ounce flatfish?  Let me try that.  How about maybe a little surface bass-plug, yeah, a little popper.  I’m drifting in, see.

And so I just lay it out, my first cast whooooooooooo, it lies next to a rock.  There’s a ripple and I see a fin just lay flat in the water.  Oh, this is it!  This is it!!  What I’ve been looking for all of my life!  Then I reel it in slowly.  Slowly, slowly.  I see a few little bubbles.  Slowly I reel in, and I pause again and I see a log hanging off the shore, drifting down into the water and reaching down deep into it.  My little boat is now skittering sideways, slowly all by itself and spinning whoooooooooooo.  And I lay that plug a quarter of an inch—just a quarter of an inch from the edge of that beautiful log.  Kweowoooogh, and down it goes—wow!  A smallmouth leaps out of the water!

smallmouthbassPainting of smallmouth bass by Rodd Umlauff

Have you ever seen a smallmouth silhouetted against dark green pine trees?  It just clears the water, he’s fluttering along on his tail.  He goes up again!  Flips into a somersault and I play him, oh boy, with that two-ounce-tip rod with my three-pound test line.  Fifteen minutes later that speckled beauty is in my landing net.  Ahhhhh.

I quickly detach my hook and now I lay another one out there.  And then, high overhead I hear—the sound of a motor owwwwuuuuweeeeeeowurrrw.  Ah, what peace!  What beauty!  I see a tiny airplane high up in the sky, maybe three or four-thousand feet above me, like a small, beautiful, gypsy moth caught against the firmament of all of creation!  Floating high above me.  And he drifts out over the horizon.

Stay tuned for the unexpected conclusion to this story.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom says:

    I always loved it when Shep talked about Maine. As a suburban kid starved for Field & Stream type experiences (just like Ralph Parker back in Hammond), that mythical realm to the North seemed like Valhalla. I’ve been to the North Woods since and can attest that he captured the scene beautifully. As for the fifteen minute fight on ultra-light tackle – must have been some fish!

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