It’s Monday morning. About a quarter to seven. I rose naturally at 5:30. Suddenly I was awake and alert and ready. It’s interesting how much easier my body wakes in the woods. I wake with purpose and excitement and determination whenever I wake in the woods. It’s always been that way, even back when my camping trips were groups of friends getting shitfaced around the fire in the woods of Washington or California. My eyes would have their first glimpse of early morning light and miraculously they couldn’t ignore it, so, with hangover, I’d unzip the tent and let the early air greet my swollen face before starting a fire.
Today I wear that same kind of face I wear when I get over a fire under the stars. My throat is scratchy. My eyes feel swollen and crusted with more sleep. My hands seem to grow a second coat of thickness. I can’t help by think of pioneer women who lived the lands of the west during the 1800s. Thick skin. Maybe thick skin came around because someone who lives outside is a different kind of person and their skin literally thickens and you become tough. You have to be.
Normally Monday mornings are spent thinking of what coffee shops to go to for work that day. I’m fortunate to work with an amazing group of people in a pretty unique company, and I am absolutely bewildered to be sitting here in the woods, on the shore of a lake in the panhandle of Idaho, in a place where my feet have never been before, and I will be spending part of my day working. It’s incredible how much technology is changing our lives.
Today, this lake and this fire and these trees and this dusty dirt will become my office, and for Katy it will become her art studio. Now she is fishing. We were out with the hope for bites until dark last night, and came back with a bit of disappointment that bit our own line of hope we accumulated earlier in the day. After a night on the tree lined streets of Spokane’s quaint historical district neighborhood Browne’s Village, we headed east into Idaho and then south down the east side of Lake Coeur D’Alene.
There was no plan, no destination, just excitement. Like we were reading a story and we had no idea what was going to happen next or where we arrive. An untold story. I suppose I am reading the lines of my story and writing them at the same time, and it feels pretty effing great.
Katy noted on the map that Harrison would be the next town, and it seemed we were driving far longer than we needed. Our bellies growled and we wanted to fish, but we had no poles or line or anything. I didn’t even have any fishing knowledge. Besides the times I remember as a young child, on boats with my dad or my Papa in Puget Sound, I don’t have any fishing experience. Katy on the other hand is a confident and eager fisherwoman. I know her well, and I have gathered over the last six and a half years I have known her that fishing is one of her most adored activities. Painting and fishing and traveling. I’m sure she is happy right now on that dock out there where I can’t see her, and she should be, because right now she is traveling and fishing and “arting,” as she would call it. Hat trick for her.
When we finally pulled in to Harrison, I saw the blue historical district sign for this tiny town of just over two hundred people and grew very happy. The town is a little stop that sits right on the Coeur D’Alene Scenic Byway 97, and on the shores of the lake. We pulled into the gravel lot and considered if we should persevere with the task of getting the plumbing working in the big rig. I have been avoiding it like poop, and it has a lot to do with poop. I’m terrified and have absolutely no idea what I need to do. I have a rough idea, but the actual hooking the pipe up to everything is something I am, yes, avoiding. It’s good Katy is here because she can’t stand that I squat over a clear bucket in the bathroom, which I have absolutely not one issue with, so she is encouraging me to take on this task, and because she is so disgusted with the pee in the bucket and refuses to take part after her first and only attempt that I am pretty sure traumatized her, she actually said she is eager to get it done and help. Ace for me!
I was able to put off the plumbing a bit longer because we got distracted by the marina. And the boat store on the end of the dock. And Jeff (or Geoff) at Gateway Marina and Resort. And the poles. And the tackle. And suddenly it was two and half hours later and we were emerging from the store with knowledge and poles and lures and line, mine of which was tied by our new favorite person in the world Jeff, and I felt proud. It’s pretty cool when you go in a little local store and the person behind the counter drops all of the tasks he was doing and spends two and half hours to outfit you with what you’ll need to find dinner each night. Unfortunately we never got lucky with dinner, and in the dark we ate packaged fish over couscous in silence. Something about it tasted sour.
I had caught a small fish though, but we had thrown it back. I had reeled it in while calling nervously at Katy who was all the way down the rock- and tree-lined shore. She ran as quickly as she could over the rocks while I sat with the flopping fish gasping for water, not knowing what to do or if it was too small or if I was being cruel and I waited anxiously. She finally arrived and said it was probably too small and a walleye and that we should throw it back. She confidently went to the fish to remove the hook, and I stopped and told her through small tears that I wanted to do it. He looked like he was suffocating and I was terrified I was killing him, but Katy assured me he was totally okay. I removed the hook from his flesh and tossed him quickly back into his home. I had lots to think about when Katy finally returned to her side of the shore and I was again alone. The sky filled with dark grey clouds in areas and pinkish orange brightness in others, and I wondered if it was wrong that I fish. I thought of food and where it comes from and ethics, and tried to find my own value system about it all. I imagine it won’t be long before I come to my own conclusion for me, probably when I catch a fish that is large enough to “keep.”
Night came and then morning, and there I was awaking early. Katy is back now, and the sun just peaked through clouds and coffee is almost done. The work day will begin and who knows what else happens.
Where are you this Monday morning?