Fishing The Coast, Oregon and Washington
APRIL


Colmbia River chinook

 

Jennie's Fishing Life

FISHING THE COAST

A journal of my adventures.


 

April 1st 2001!

First of all, I'm closing ifish.
April Fools! That wasn't funny!
I had a blast last night!
Highlights:
A hug from Jim Martin. He is such a nice, gentle, extremely intelligent person. I just think alot of him and his lovely wife.
I was honored to be able to sit at the Amato table, with Nick Amato and associates. Had a lovely talk with Nick about jig fishing and a future fishing trip. Also talked with him about article ideas I might spend some time on for Salmon Trout Steelheader magazine.
At his table was John Williams of Rainbow's End Lodge and Retreat Center in Kodiak. Sounds like a neat place! They do healing touch therapy. I could use about a week of that about now! I'm tired!
Oh yeah! And Hobart Manns won one of the hall of fame awards. He deserves it, and is a great guy! He writes a wonderful column on Freshwater News. Catch it! I got to meet Hobart for the first time last night, and I will be on KTOK 1080 AM talking about Ifish on April 15th at 6:15 or so. It'll be a blast!
The table next to me was The Hot Tamale Outdoor Show table, and Scott Kappes and Bill and I visited for quite some time. We talked about (Psst Marty!) a show featuring Marty Peterson, Bill Hedlund and I on the Trask for springers. Whoo hoooo! Sounds like a blast. You better do it, Marty! Please?
Let's see.... what else? I don't know, but I had a wonderful time, feeling a little dizzy and sick, but better now.
Oh yeah! I won the auction for some neato bubble bath, soap and lotion... I bought a grab bag from Buzz for 20 bucks and inside it had one beautiful K13 Kwikfish, chartreuse and chrome and it rattles! KILLER! You can't order the K13 online yet, but look for it in your local stores, it's dangerous for those springers!
It's time! For all of you who feel like ifish has helped you out in your fishing endeavors, and you are not into a pay site. Help me out, here! The bulletin board needs some work, and I just had to upgrade a bunch of hardware and software. Internet connectivity fees are going up, and ifish is experiencing growing pains.
If you can't or don't want to donate money, don't. Ifish needs all kinds of help. If you are interested in helping to moderate, which includes duties such as watching the board and notifying me if things get out of hand, I'm sure Bigstew would appreciate it. We may be going to a moderator of the month type thing. It was just getting to be too much for RT. Just ask his family!
I would like to buy RT something nice from the ifish community for his past services if donation amounts allow and I would like all of you to be involved in the purchase and any ideas for what we would like to do. Please e mail me if you have suggestions. He did some very fine work on ifish, and I hope he continues to be involved!
So, all that said, have a great day. This is the week that I will catch a Springer, so watch for photos! I just feel it in 'me bones!


April 4th

With the same anticipation that some feel as they enter a gambling casino, with all the giddy laughter of a business group that had won a trip to Las Vegas, we arrived at the boat launch in Westport.
On the trip across the Columbia, we began to sort through the tokens that could win the rush that only a spring chinook jackpot can produce.
I knew in my heart that I had the lucky ticket. I had just recede a K13 Kwikfish in my favorite color, chrome with a chartreuse tail. I was going to go all out, bet my best card.
I felt lucky.
Captain J Guide service led us out to find our winning slot, deep in the Columbia river.. Or shall I say shallow?
Long before our venture we had dropped our quarters at the counter of various tackle and bait shops.
We cruised the river searching for the right slot that would hook us up with a winner.
Waiting for the right tide, we took it easy cruising the river, slowly, dangling a herring offering, chatting, devising our strategies.
Joe Schwab of Captain J Guide Service expertly chose our spot. We anchored in 12 feet of water and got serious. I put on my poker face.
Before long my rod went doubled over.. I jumped up, screaming "ROYAL FLUSH!! FISH ON!!!"
By the time I grabbed the rod, it was gone.
People in the boats next to us stared.
"Try again!" The river flashed at me in neon inviting colors.
During the quiet times, the four of us discussed deep and heavy subjects. The infinite properties of the universe, where does infinite end? The stars that we see now that have actually burned out many years ago. Carl Sagon and more...
Desperation was creeping in. We threw a penny into the river for good luck. We discussed ultimate offerings that would turn the luck. We prayed to God, even knowing that he had much better things to do.
In jest, I suggested we try chumming. My mind raced in desperation. What would Spring Chinook prefer to be chummed with? "Kwikfish, maybe???" I grabbed Joe's box of prized Kwikfish.
As Bill intercepted my intention he exclaimed "NO WAY!!" Just then, my rod doubled over again!
"FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON!" I screamed! I jumped, grabbed that rod and gave it all I had. The fish was a wild card, the hottest fish on the river! My reel screamed as the fish made a long run very near the anchor rope of a boat far below us. "He's gone! No he's not! He is! No he's not!" The springer had turned and raced upstream leaving me with slack line. I reeled in until I met my match once again.
I honestly couldn't control my excitement! I think we had most of the boats in our line-up screaming along with me!
What fun to turn an otherwise bleak and quiet hog line into an uproar of anticipation. Each man staring at his rod tip hoping that he too, would be able to jump up and down as they played their fish just like me! If only they really would, and stop being so darn serious!
This is fun stuff!
The fish made one last turn 50 yards from the boat and popped off. After reeling in my losses, close inspection revealed a straightened hook. WHIMPER!
I heard someone mutter something about me 'sore mouthing the only two fish in the hole'.
I replayed that fish in my sleep last night. What could I have done differently? How could I have won?
Gambling is addictive, and I find myself a repeated offender. I often go home with nothing to show for my efforts, my family goes without dinner, I arrive home late. Starving children that have no springer on their plates.
I lack, however, the guilt that often accompanies this disorder. I want more... more!
I am counting my pennies and planning my next trip.

April 12th

Where did I get all this stuff?
As if it isn't hard enough to organize makeup, shoes, kitchen tools and jewelry, now I have to organize this?
I woke up this morning, thinking I was going out on the Columbia, but at last thought I decided against it. I am just not in the mood for rain and wind. They said it would rain and wind, now if it doesn't, I will miss out.
I built a warm fire and drank my coffee.
Full of energy, and wanting to be organized for a trip I planned for tomorrow, I began methodically pulling out box after box of stored fishing gear. I mean box, after box after box!
I was going to get organized!
I do this once a year...or so. When the idiotic notion comes to me. When I am tired of wondering, "where can I find a thill bobber?" Or, "where did I put that diver?", or "I thought I had more sliders..."
The kitchen is now a mass of tangled tackle from cutting board to kitchen table to counters by the bread maker. Corkies are rolling on the floor for the cat to play with, and the dog is happily chewing one of my cork bobbers.
I had to leave it for a bit. My mind a massive tangled web of fishing projects. ARGH! The pleasure of being alone in the house has now turned into my worst tackle-tangle-of-projects-nightmare!
I have too much stuff! Lines of all kinds. strung together and trailing out to the garage!
Do I put the bass line with the bass box, or do I keep a big box of all my line in one place? Shall I separate sinkers to their appropriate species, or should I keep a whole box with all sinkers from packages of trout sized to 12 ounce pyramids?
"Wait Bill! I want to go with you!"
Too late, he's long down the road. He tried to convince me to go. He knew! He knew I couldn't just relax, as he wanted me to do.
I wish I could click my heels three times..."There's no place like a tidy tackle room... There's no place...
I have to go back in there. I will finish this task, from filling my three tier plastic dispenser from Holdzit with different colored yarn, to separating jigs from Mark Anderson, Silent Approach, and a very unique and pretty buggy-looking one from Bev and Dot.
Salmon, (Spring or Fall? Spinner or bait? Bobber or drift?) Steelhead, (jig or lure? Bait or plugs?) Trout, (Power bait or worms? Spinner or fly?) Bass???
Oh my.
I wonder if they make huge garbage sacks. Then I can just go out their, in that crazy mass of tackle, and dive in a bag for a while. Whatever I come up with in my teeth, is the method of the day. I'll catch bass with jigs and steelhead with ling cod gear!
Ah ha ha ha hhhhh!
You never know, really. It could work.
I like this idea. I might even try it for my jewelry, makeup and kitchen tools.
I'll fry up some bread, bake some eggs! Wear eye shadow on my lips, and high heels with my overalls!
I'm losing it!
I know.... I am going to Fred Meyers now. I am going to go buy some new tackle boxes. While I am at it, I am sure I can find things I really need. I really do need more K13s. Come to think of it, I need some more of alot of things.
Sinkers, line, more plugs!
And then.... then I will organize.
Or maybe I'll do it next week.

April 14th

I'm trying to wake up!
Thought I'd get up early, so that I would be able to speak by 6:30. I'm talking to Hobart Manns on KTOK 1080 AM.
Wouldn't it be awful if I slept in, and answered the phone, "Who the heck would call me at this hour???!" :)
Yesterday I woke early to fish with Nick Amato of STS, and Mark Anderson of First Cast Jigs.
We met at the Guideshop at 6:30 to begin a jigging adventure in the Wilson River.
Marty Peterson of Gone Fishin Guide Service keeps questioning my sanity for driving all the way to the Columbia for Springers, when the local rivers hold so many beautiful wild steelhead.
He really is right. It is gorgeous this time of year on the coastal rivers! Pressure is extremely light, and Mark and Nick landed and released some absolute beautiful chrome natives! (My rod was silent, but then again, I was SO busy watching and trying to absorb their expert ways...)
So many people are wrapped up in the politics of fishing. So angry at certain user groups, bent on spending their time trying to change things.
Don't get me wrong, I care deeply about our fisheries, and I am learning so much about what is happening, that it makes my brain hurt. However, spending a day, deep in the Wilson river canyon can bring you to a renewed mindset.
The birds of spring are flitting around, the high, steelhead green water rushing over the rocks, the damp, clean smell of the rain forest, and a feistier chrome native leaping through the air on the end of Mark's line makes me realize how lucky we truly are.
We live amongst an awesome resource here! Thank God for this bountiful Spring Chinook run! Thank God for our steelhead, our crab, our bass, and yes, thank God for those carp even!
Please spend at least half of your time smiling about what we have, and then, with joy and concern, approach the issues that we someday may be able to make a difference with!
Today I am staying home to play Easter bunny with the kids. We are dying eggs, and doing all the traditional pre holiday fare.
Today I am passing up yet another invitation from Fishin Mission to join him in his boat. You know, he is the guy who has had magical luck to match his skill bringing in this years Springers
I wanted to go so badly, but the business of the Holiday and the fact that my kids will soon not care to play 'Easter Bunny' much longer, swayed me to stay home.
I am betting that we will have another run of these fish next year. I glance at my calendar that marks off every day of the remaining season as otherwise occupied. :(
Knock yourself out on those fish out there on the Columbia before it's over!
...And Happy Easter to you all!
Hop hop hop hop hop hop hop!!!!

April 16th

I was busy drying my hair upstairs when I heard the boys yelling for me.
"Mom! There is a herd of elk in the yard!"
I ran downstairs, hair dryer swinging back and fourth on it's cord to find ten large and very awesome creatures lazily grazing in the yard. We had seen tracks, evidence, but never the real thing in daylight!
I shivered. I had just been out there, at a little before six, (Woops, I mean the Easter Bunny had been out there) sneaking around, bathrobe clad and shivering, hiding plastic and real colored eggs amongst the daffodils and trees. I hope my kids never get to old for this!
I wish the light had been brighter, or I had a better camera, because the sight was award winning. Huge grazing elk amongst daffodils and colored eggs! By Golly, it was the Easter Elk!
And here I was pitying myself for not being able to fish the last of the Columbia season. God has greater things in mind!
Time was short between the time the elk were spotted and the time we had to leave for church. We still hadn't had our hunt. We were forced outside to disturb their Easter morning breakfast.
Clad in high heels, hopping through the wet grass, I paid more attention to the elk than the kids' gleeful attempt to uncover my (I mean the Easter Bunnies) treasures.
I ran across the yard down to the river bank to find half of them swimming across the river, and the other half already across. The sounds of them cracking small limbs in their travels echoed across the canyon. I just stood their in stunned wonder.
We finally got in the car and headed out for church. Afterwards we went to a wonderful new restaurant in Astoria, "The Silver Salmon Grill" for brunch.
Upon arriving home, I fed the birds, refilled the hummingbird feeders and made a fire to relax by.
Life in the canyon, I breathed deeply, holding my cup of coffee and waiting for the birds to come feed. They too, little splashes of spring colors, matched the day, flitted around the yard and clung to their feeders.
"What is that in the tree?" I asked the kids. They got their binoculars. A... a.... banana?
"THE FRUIT BUNNY CAME!"
I don't know what it is, or where the idea came from, but for years, since I was a small child the fruit bunny has never forgotten us.
Small baskets of strawberries, single bananas, oranges and apples hidden around the yard.
I think my Grandfather was the start of this tradition, years ago, on his century old farm in Forest Grove. Treasures of fruit, hidden amidst the prim roses of his flower gardens, the joy that he found in doing this.
I can't let that tradition go. (I mean the fruit bunny can't).
Back in the warm house, blankets piled high on the couch, we snuggled in for a movie, a basket of fruit and some warmed brie.
David was lost in thought for a minute. "Mom, what do they do on Easter in the Buddha Tradition? The Buddha bunny?"
What goes through kids minds...
Traditions are important in our family. Easter bunnies, fruit bunnies, sunrise church services amidst the daffodil cross that is carefully laid out by the women in the church, on Clatsop Plains.
I will never let traditions die.
But how the heck am I going to get the Easter Elk to return?
That was God's special blessing to us. The Easter and fruit bunny pale in comparison, but hey, I'm only human. Hiding eggs and fruit is easy. I'm going to have a heck of a time next year trying to herd up those elk. Especially in high heels.


April 18th

A responsible angler, huh? Yes, I am learning and have become a responsible angler, but I have also learned that whenever you are dealing with wildlife, responsibility is in order.
I am now becoming a responsible bird feeder!
I noticed some extremely lethargic Pine Siskins and Bill Monroe alerted to the fact that they may be ill.
Upon further investigation I found that, indeed, the very bottoms of my feeders contained small amounts of mold. Could we be contributing to their illness? What a terrible thought!
Thus began my project of scrubbing and hosing my feeders with a 50/50 mix of hot water and vinegar, and raking up bits of old seed left over under the feeders.
Although my chickens keep the under feeders fairly picked up in the afternoon, I was able to find spots of feed they had missed. I have learned that even larger game, such as chickens can be affected by moldy feed.
Have you ever noted birds in a crowd that have what appears to be conjunctivitis, pink eye, or just a white covering over their eyes?
It is often a sign of Mycoplasmosis. This is the most recently discovered disease in songbirds. It’s transmitted by direct contact or by airborne droplets or dust. It causes conjunctivitis (infection of membranes of the eye). It has spread rapidly through the eastern population of House Finches (though its occurrence in Texas is, so far, only sporadic). More recently, it has also been identified in American Goldfinches. A survey conducted by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has documented the spread of this disease from suburban Washington, D.C., in 1994 to the entire eastern half of the United States and Canada by the end of 1996.
Another very common disease birds can get is Salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is the most common bird-feeder disease. This is a general term for any disease in animals and people caused by Salmonella bacteria. Birds get sick when they eat food contaminated by infected droppings.
For more bird diseases, please refer to Gardening in Formation by the folks at OSU.
When you note a very crowded feeder, add another one, as to not pass on these diseases.
Crowded? That brings up another point. Last year at this time my hummingbird feeders were thick with Annas, but mostly Rufous hummers.
This year, no matter how many times I clean and add new nectar, my feeders remain barely touched.
For a while there, I had a handful, and you could hear them buzzing about the borders of the yard, now they are very quiet or non existent. Nothing like the last years experience of a migration.
Anyone else have this experience? I know that many people that frequent ifish do feed them, so I would love some feedback.
More importantly, please check out the Hummingbirds and flowers page. This study provides some very useful information and tracks Oregon and Washington migrations.
Their plan is to establish not only arrival dates but peak movement dates throughout our region. They hope to gather evidence for or against the long held belief that hummingbird movements coincide with the blooming of certain plant species.
Please also refer to their migration map for 2001.
Well, I have done my homework this morning, and have found some really neato links that I hope you will visit and learn something by, as I did.
I just walked out to get a cup of coffee and wondered why the heck I get up so early?
The dog was asleep, curled up on the chair, Bill in slumber upstairs, the boys curled up in their beds.
Here I sit, alone in the early light, typing at the computer. It was dark when I stumbled across the kitchen floor to get my coffee, the birds hadn't even shown yet.
But now, as the first white and golden crowned sparrows show up at my newly cleaned feeders, and the boys stumble from their beds I am awake and refreshed and can provide a cheery start to their mornings.
"Good Morning!" I smile, and give their legs a comforting rub. "Time to get up!"
The grumbles were not the reaction that I thought I would prompt.
I hear Bill groan and yawn upstairs.
I get up too early, they say.
But I don't want to miss anything! What if the elk showed up? What if I missed an eagle soaring down the river, hunting for food? What if?
They get up too late, I think.

April 20th

Tis the season to be sealin, fa la la la laaaa la la la la!
Vac and Pac for later dealin, fa la la la laaa la la la la!
Smoke the fish, that's how I'm feelin, fa la la la la la.. la la la!
Steaks are cut for greasy grillin!
fa la la la la laaaa LA LA LA LALA!!! :):):):):):):)
I can't believe it! My arm is sore from "pressing on both ends" and sucking air out of Vac and Pac bags of Spring Chinook Salmon!
We have a deal with some friends to trade for wild rice, some for family, some for friends, hey just knock on our door! We have SPRINGERS!
A little smoked, a little fresh, I love to vac pac! Better watch out, Bill, I've gone nuts with this machine! If you come home some day and your couch is vac packed, don't be surprised!
I've gotten so good at it, that every time I see Bill out there filleting, I have that vac pac whipped out and ready for sealin and mealin.
Yesterday brought home another Spring Chinook! It's already neat and tidy in the freezer. One for Andrew's orthodontist, one for my sis. Count 'em up! Gosh, I have friends this time of season!
Bill brought in a beautiful sea liced chromer yesterday off of the Willamette.
It was caught on an orange prawn, wrapped with an orthodontic rubber band, and scented with Marie's shrimp scent. Those little bands come in so handy when trying to keep those prawns on the hook, and they are colorful too!
Pete Morris came with us, and we had a really great time. Seven hours of fishing produced two fish, one keeper and one non fin clipped. I still can't call them wild. Of course, Pete's was a couple of pounds bigger!
Oh... Springers... come home to me!
I am so tired of driving to get to these fish! Yesterday found Bill and I on the road at 5. zzzzz
Soon, oh so very soon, they will be knocking on my home waters, haunting my sleep with visions of launching at Memaloose, fishing the Trask, bobber down, net up! Boxes of shiny polished spinners.. Perhaps even a permanent place on my counter for my VAC PAC!
Tis the season to be sealin, tra la la la laaaa la la la la!
I'm a happy packer!
A packy happer?
A happacker?
A mealsealin Mama?
A chinnookacook?
A domesticookchinook?

April 23rd

I carefully placed my feet, trying to avoid stepping in any newly laid elk prints on the trail to the river.
Again, I notice it is the season of a thousand colors of green. It all seemed to change over night. Had we skipped over a season? Or had I taken a long nap right through the steelhead run?

The river never sleeps, they say.

I missed out on the raging storms of winter, the gray skies. I don't remember standing for hours casting into the steelhead green waters of fall and winter. It just didn't happen often enough last year, due to the drought.
Now it seems a fragment of different seasons all put together. I have the deep green waters, yet the bright green mosses of spring are covering the rocks exposed in the river. The fragrance of spring flowers... Daffodils hang half spent along the thickets of the yard.
I count 14 species of spring birds in my lawn, including my first American Goldfinch arriving yesterday.
It is indeed spring. The first blossoms of the cherry tree are coming on. My sweet hen, Charlotte, is starting a nest, protectively kerr kerr-ing at me when I come near. Her clutch of eggs growing every day.
I choose my attire carefully. The season tempts me to select a sleeveless sweater, but as I head out the door I realize I need a coat. We are not quite there yet, to the warmth of summer. But I can feel it coming on.
Down to the river I continue, the rocks on the bank not nearly so familiar to me as they had been last year. Last year I knew each and every log, rock, where I dug my rod holder in, where I would drape my other rods as I fished. I'd marvel at the changes that took place after each flood, finding new agates and treasures unearthed by the power of the water.
This year the water didn't rage. The wind didn't howl. The rain didn't soak and the snow didn't blow.
All was calm.
Eerie, but calm. Mother nature? Are you building up for a big one?
I sat on the rocks of the river bank and took in the sights of spring. I listened to the birds call, the rush of the water over the rocks. My eyes took in the extreme brightness of the season. Too many colors to count. I squinted my eyes and looked down.
My eyes picked up the hue of a purple agate! Something I missed last year, no doubt.
I held it in my hand and stared through its opacity. How many years of change did it take to create this?
The river never sleeps, they say.
I could swear that it did, though, last year.

April 25th

All people who are not sure if they are going to get to fish the Columbia reopener, raise one hand. Oops, I can't type with one hand!
The Columbia is open for a short time for you all to get out there and catch them! How will you do it? Will you get out there? Or will you live vicariously, experiencing it on the board?
Everyone wants their own salmon!
Any way I have done it, I have felt the same excited anticipation. Forgive me, but it seems very similar to a bingo hall. If we could only play more than one card at a time!
Combat fishing? However much I don't know that I'd like to be in a crowded mass of boats below Bonneville, I still think it would be fun to experience it once. Being a crazy vac pac girl, I have visions of slab after slab of fresh chinook to do with as I please. Bbq? Roast? To give it away and make someone smile...
Westport Fishing? I wonder about the area that I mainly fished this year. Probably more enjoyable, although I have seen a bit of competition there also. Everyone wants a salmon! The guides want to fill their customers cards, the sports fishermen watch their every move. Everyone is tentative... waiting, watching!
Plunking? Gotta get up early to get your spot. Competition plays it's role here too. You would think that this would be the most relaxed of fisheries, but this is not always so. People lay claim to their home spots!
I remember as a plunker, (bank maggot, beach lice, none of these nick names bother me!) rising much before light, to travel out to the Columbia beaches. I drove a special car that I purchased just for the fishery at Social Security beach out of Fort Stevens. I'd creep out onto the beach in that rusty old 4 wheel drive subaru, trying to avoid hitting logs, not knowing where the tide was... It was scary, but worth it to get my place! That was years ago. What is it like now?
Gill netting? Do they feel the same rush when they haul them in? How does it feel to have too much salmon? I guess the competition there lies in trying to get rid of it fast enough? I just don't know!
So many people I have run into just want one! One, very special hand caught salmon, and they still wait, and wish, and hope, and keep trying!
It's the whole process. The planning, the night before sleepless expectation, the drive, the launch. Watching your fish finder for the best anchoring spot. How to troll, plug cut or whole? Prawn or spinner or eggs? The anticipation that your rod could go down any minute. The special placement when you cast off the bank. You place a bell at the tip of your rod as you wait... wait... wait!
Today I am at home, gardening, not gambling.
As I plant my new spring flowers, I'm wondering who is out there. What it is like. Why I'm trolling soil and not herring.
I will get out there, one way or another! I will hold that one card in my hand and rehearse the call over and over and BINGO! I'm going to win!
Like the serious addict that I am, I will take my winnings home and vac pac them, store them, or give them away. But that won't be enough. I'll have to play again.
And again.
And again.

April 26th

Something new for me yesterday! I went cockle clamming! It was great fun, although my shoulders are really sore from raking now!
What a fun thing to do with kids!
I unearthed things that made me scream a bit. Little Dungeness crabs, although small, still able to pinch their unsuspecting victims.
We put on our hip boots, work clothes and rain coats and drove to Garibaldi. We joined the parking lot full (or nearly full) of people along the bay already enjoying the sport.
Let me tell you, you get wet, but you don't care!
Take along a bucket, and a four pronged rake when you go. Bill had a purex bottle tied on a belt and wrapped securely on his waistline.
You can buy the rakes at your local sporting goods stores. We got one for around 6 bucks, on sale.
Walk along the water line, or go in the water a couple of feet. You don't need to rake more than one rake depth to find them.
We were late, and our area was fairly worked over. The competitor in me first was a little disappointed, thinking that it was first come, first serve. I found out it really didn't matter though, as there was plenty for all! By raking where the grasses are growing, you can find untouched earth, and therefore the prize of a beautiful cockle!
I was totally lost in the hunt. What a great way to rid your mind of stress!
We easily got our limit and headed for the car.
I don't know where Bill's mind wandered as we walked along the railway in silence, back to the car, but a pile of railroad ties along side the track took me to a time, years ago, at Christmas.
Although I was very young, this memory is clear in my mind.
My Mother always wanted a railroad tie fence alongside her side garden, that separate our house from the neighbors. She spoke of it often, and I would see her searching through the papers for a good deal. Finally, knowing her limit on finances, she seemed to give up.
The small details are unclear, but somehow we found the ties for my Mother, but kept it a secret.
A month before Christmas, we devised a plan. Every time my Mom was out of the house on errands, we would go out and dig holes for the fence to be placed in. It was a very secretive and giggly time! Trying not to be caught, scheduling things just right...
On that Christmas eve, my Dad took my Mom to a friends Christmas eve party. He had a hard time convincing her to go, as this wasn't traditional, and traditions are very sacred in our family!
When they pulled out of the driveway, my brothers and sisters and I pulled on our work clothes and went out in the dark of night and assembled that fence! Everything had been pre notched and fitted and holes had been dug.
My mother came home that night, drove in the driveway and did not notice the elves work.
I will never forget the look on her face when she saw the fence, early on Christmas morning. It stood there in it's glorious, wobbly wonder, still needing a bit of work, but nonetheless, the dream of a fence that she had wished for. Nothing that you could order out of the Sears catalogue.
I smiled to myself as I skipped the last two rungs of the railway and down the trail to our car.
I miss my Mom.
I have wonderful memories though, and I thanked God for the morning.
Going out clamming in the cold, salty drizzle had cleared my mind. It had broken the chain of everyday stresses that can block out happy thoughts and memories.
With a bucket full of clams for clam chowder, and one very special memory, we drove home.

April 26th Later...
I just wanted to remind everyone that Stan Fagerstrom, who used to write for ifish.net is now writing for Western Fishing. Catch up on what he has to say! I miss him here!

 


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