Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Crisis: Averted

Jack was so alarmed by the dinner situation he did some research and concluded, based on the Lewis County Museum of Natural History anyway, that we probably would not have gone hungry on this river:

Archaeological evidence suggests that the first humans to make use of the abundant natural resources of present-day Lewis County were pre-Columbian Native Americans. Perhaps as far back as 10,000 BC, Native Americans hunted game and gathered food using seasonal/short-term campsites along the Big Swan Creek in the eastern portion of the county. At one site along the Swan Creek, an archaeological investigation in 2000 unearthed a number of artifacts from a phase of the Woodland Period of Native American habitation (estimated 1000-500 BC). By this time, Native Americans began occupying the area for longer durations. Animals and plants consumed included turkey, fish, deer, beaver, turtle, walnuts, hazelnuts, grapes, and raspberries. Archaeologists uncovered remains of rectangular living quarters, clusters of storage pits, and rows of fire hearths dating from this period. Fiber-tempered stamped pottery shards found near Swan Creek dating from 950-80 BC are some of the oldest examples of pre-Columbian pottery discovered in Tennessee.

Thanks to several members stepping up in the kitchen, though, the RRCC will not have to forage for berries and beavers.

First, Roy has said that as long as we'll bring a very long extension cord for his microwave he will take over as Top Chef on Friday night.

We will announce the full menu when he sends it to us, but you can count on an upgrade from Vienna Sausages to at least frozen burritos.

Mike will also contribute on Friday night because he will be hand-delivering the catch-of-the-day. Actually catch-of-the-previous-day because the day before we leave for Big Swan Creek he will be returning from a deep sea fishing trip in Guatemala, hopefully with a big chunk of freshly filleted fish in his suitcase (Roy: don't count on this).

Let's just not tell anyone that after all these river trips the only fish dinners we've had have come from either Central America or a trout farm.

We did catch this nice Rainbow on the Eleven Point last fall and COULD have eaten it if we hadn't been so lazy:

On Saturday night Phil will don the sanitary hairnet and will "whip up the Patey special" whatever that means.

Judging by what we found at his warehouse when we picked up the trailer last week, he may have been talking about cocktail hour.

Josh: if Phil turns in a receipt that says "Hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line" it is APPROVED.


The sun's laziness got into me and I wandered up the lesser channel, casting only occasionally into holes without the expectation of fish. Then, on a long flow-dimpled bar, something came down over my consciousness like black pain, and I dropped the rod and squatted, shaking my head to drive the blackness back. It receded a little. I waddled without rising to the bar's edge and scooped cold water over my head. After four or five big throbs it went away, and I sat down half in the water and thought about it. It didn't take much study. My stomach was giving a lecture about it, loud. What it amounted to was that I was about half starved.

I picked up the rod, went back to camp, stirred the fire, and put on a pot of water into which I dumped enough dried lima beans for four men, salt, an onion, and a big chunk of bacon. Considering, I went down to the stringer and skinned and gutted the little catfish and carried him up and threw him in the pot, too. While it boiled, I bathed in the river, frigid in contrast to the air, sloshed out the canoe and sponged it down, and washed underclothes and socks. In shorts, feeling fine now but so hungry it hurt, I sat by the fire and sharpened knives and the ax for the additional hour the beans needed to cook soft in the middle. Fishing out the skeleton of the disintegrated catfish, and using the biggest spoon I had, I ate the whole mess from the pot almost without stopping, and mopped up its juices with cold biscuit bread.

Then I wiped my chin and lay back against the cottonwood log with my elbows hanging over it behind and my toes digging the sand, and considered that asceticism, most certainly, was for those who were built for it. Some were. Some weren't. I hadn't seen God in the black headache on the sand bar and I didn't want to try anymore, that way. . . . . . Starving myself hadn't had much to do with spirituality, anyhow, but only with the absence of company.

Philosophically equilibrated, I rolled down into the sand and went to sleep for two or three hours, waking into a perfect blue-and-yellow afternoon loud with the full-throat chant of the redbird.

Goodbye to a River, pp. 162-63


1 comment:

tosha said...

Hi guys, I picked up on your blog while searching for a canoe club in middle tn to paddle with..I have been keeping up with it mostly because of the Big Swan Creek trip you are planning. We scouted the area last weekend and it looks like a good place to float. The creek was pretty high because of the current rainfall but didn't look too intimidating. I can't wait to here how it goes, we are going to try and paddle it sometime later this summer.
Tosha & RW