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Fish – Fall 2019

If I’d been paying closer attention in late August, I would have realized that it was going to be all about fish for the foreseeable future. But, I’d just finished Accident and was nearly done with Watershed and now had my mind on a few other things, like enjoying the last of warm weather with a trip to western and northern Michigan. My best and unexpected discovery was a boardwalk marsh trail in Arcadia, newly opened in spring 2019. I passed its small sign just before getting gas across the road from the formidable Goodwill store in Arcadia. Sated with shopping, my companion Marni—a childhood friend from Brownies—and I turned back to the Greater Traverse Nature Conservancy trail, an undulating 3/4-mile boardwalk across marshland.

We were there in early October and all waterways and lakes were still at record levels. The late afternoon was calm and sunny and dozens of bird species still filled the high waters. Some were heard long before seen: songs and quacks and the mechanical rotor sound of geese coming up from behind. The boardwalk traverses open marsh, before winding its way through more protected breeding habitat, an area that is completely off-limits during nesting season. At the far end, the trail decamps to the shore, but the last stop with signage is where it disappears into a narrow swift brook. The conservation plan had naturalized its course from a straight channel back to one more meandering and one of the consequences was lowering the temperature of the water by 10 degrees, cool enough to support trout.

And now it is late November, and Colin has just passed to me a fascinating online article from the Ann Arbor Observer. It’s about the restoration of Mill Creek in nearby Dexter, and the successful lowering of the creek’s temperature 10 degrees, making a sustainable habitat for trout. It’s a fascinating read.

From Accident (Sept 2019):

You can tell a lot about a fisherman
by what he throws back

and from Watershed (Oct 2019):


Thought about the time Chris and I,
leaning over the bridge in Dayton,
decided if we were seventeen, we would fish
out of season and plead ignorance. “You see,”
we would say to the game warden,
“we are not keeping any fish,
we only wanted to feel their weight
while they stripped the line,
and later, in our hands, as we released them.”

and from Cold-Running Current (Dec 2019):

What to do about the trout?
The trout lilts on the tongue

even inert in the box
it lies in. The trout

is a dilemma, despite the lilt

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