The celebration of our nation’s independence is probably an appropriate time to think back on July 4th’s past and current realities. As I sit looking out at a windless Sauk Lake with the temp hovering in the 90’s it’s easy to remember past hot summer days when a black/blue jig ‘n pig pitched under over-hanging Willows shading the water would be met with the tell-tale “thump,” a both-feet firmly planted on the floor hook-set and a wild splashing response from a 4 to 5 pound largemouth! Then the temperature mattered not because the thrill was exciting and immediate. It was not so many years ago either but it really was a “then and now” reality after too many years of over-harvesting Sauk Lake weeds complete with the trapped little fish, a carp infestation eventually resulting in a virtually weedless murky body of water the remaining largemouth seem to exist in only a small portion of the lake. Gone too are the sunfish that when my kids were small would hover under any available shade on such a day racing to see which could get to a small worm-baited hook first. Many too small but to a pint-sized angler something, anything on the hook was key. Now there are few who fish bass, none who come in search of sunfish but quite an armada of locals who revel in the lack of weeds as they slowly motor around the lake on the pontoon boat afternoon and evening parade sipping cool drinks talking about who lives or lived in which place. However, I am told that there’s now a significant walleye population in the lake created artificially through stocking and one I can neither confirm nor deny due to personal disinterest. On this July 4th I’ll hook onto the boat and travel to a different lake! It’s become a 2012 reality!
A long past July 4th found this cabin filled with 20 or more family members each bringing a pot-luck dish to share along with plates of hot dogs, buns ‘n ketchup waiting to be roasted. I’m sure Twins baseball on a blaring transistor radio could be heard through the woods by unseen neighbors blocked by thick green leaves ‘n trees. Metal on metal clanking sounds rang out too as horseshoes were pitched to silver painted stakes making them a bit easier to see under shaded trees. A rock surrounded small fire area was fed with sticks and small logs while we headed to the lakeshore Willow trees to cut hot-dog roasting sticks with the pocket knives then folded in kids pockets. Fishing those days was almost always limited to early morning and sunsets using wooden topwater baits. During the afternoons we filled 6 gallon outboard gas cans multiple times in order to water ski behind that Larson All-American run-about powered by 33 horses of Johnson. I’ll never forget one 4th with Twins radio blaring loudly Julio Vaquaire hit a grand slam which brought my cousin Tommy Sullivan to his feet making laps around the cabin screaming “Julio, Julio, Julio!” Those days too are gone like most of the folks making the memories. Some similarities can also be made to the bass fishery on this lake. Now on the July 4th it will be hot and quiet here at the same cabin. The fire pit may have a fire, the roasting sticks metal, horseshoe stakes still stick from the ground waiting for ringers or leaners with a bit of scratched silver paint on each. Missing are the players and clanking shoes! Twins radio will still sound out but here it will probably be heard by only 2 Goldens, Tess and Acea, Snap, the young Brit, Deb and yours truly!
On this 4th the boys, Erik ‘n Chad are busy. One on a houseboat adventure of his own and the other with work responsibilities in Duluth. I guess for better or worse life moves on doesn’t it. The small window ac unit works to keep us relatively comfortable another change from those days gone by when there was none just the fans pushing a breeze around.
So if perhaps you think the words above make up complaints or disappointments please don’t it’s simply a personal reflection made over time. Actually I believe a perspective is extremely valuable because without it we can’t appreciate a comparison from yesterday to today and be able to strive for a better tomorrow. Perhaps without it we’d never really understand what “could be!” However, one thing’s selfishly certain that I miss the late season diver hunting right here, Green Heads committing to Herter’s decoys on a slough west of town, road-hunting fall roosters. I miss the world-class bass fishing that used to be and I’m thankful to have been able to learn it from dad and teach it to my boys when it was still special because you see unlike the ducks ‘n bass those treasured memories, including friends and family can never be taken away from the reality of “what was!” They are however very much appreciated on this 4th of July Independence Holiday!
How about those personal to you? Do they exist and are they still there too?