Turtles, trout, bears—oh my!
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you seem to run into more wildlife than you normally do, particularly wildlife that you rarely ever see? I had one of those weeks and, as usual, I count myself blessed for the rare opportunities that have been afforded me.
Last week while mowing I happened across a painted turtle. Now while not terribly rare, I consider it a privilege to be able to approach one in my path and share the sighting with friends or family. As it would happen, my wife was nearby taking a stroll with our son. I called to her and turned off the mower so I could reach down and pick up the turtle. He was scrambling against a chain-link fence, trying to get to the pond on the other side. Chelsea, my wife, got to take a good look at the turtle, and I think our six-week old son even appreciated the encounter, despite having stirred him from his nap. The turtle probably didn’t mind too much either, considering we helped him past that pesky fence.
Just a day later, I was driving home from work along the Callicoon Road in PA, this time without the family, and stopped to check on a van that was pulled over to the side of the road with its flashers on. The van was packed with students on their way home from school, huddled against the far window. After having confirmed there were no mechanical issues or emergency at hand, the driver informed me that the kids were watching a black bear cub on the lower side of the road. I pulled forward to catch a glimpse myself, and, sure enough, there was a small 100-pound bear squatted with its back to a telephone pole. Upon second glance, I realized the bear was scrunching up and down the pole, scratching itself with the lovely backscratcher that man had been kind enough to install for him. Awfully nice, I thought, for the school van driver to stop and let the kids experience that.
Just this past Saturday, I was blessed with a few hours to go fishing with Amanda Reed, graphic artist extraordinaire from the award-winning River Reporter. Along for the trip were my wife and son, and Amanda’s husband Marty, as well as my sister’s fiancé Jesse who also happens to have been my college roommate. Together we set up shop on the banks of Long Pond in PA. The target of our midday outing was trout. Before too long, Amanda pulled in the first one of the day closely followed by several other species of fish between me and the crew. Among these were several panfish, a bullhead and a pickerel. After a few hours, the lot of us had a few stringers of trout. I prepared mine for dinner that night, while Amanda’s was headed for the smoker.
I must admit, I was having a bit of difficulty dialing in on the trout as opposed to the other fish. Amanda lent me one of her rigs, which got to the proper depth for where the trout were running and not a minute later, I was in the game. Marty even pulled out a nice 14-inch palomino. If you’ve never seen a palomino trout, they are a beautiful, pale yellow-gold. They are fairly uncommon and to see one at that size around here was a real treat.
It was one of those truly awesome weeks. For those of you who work a day job like me and don’t get out as much, I suggest you take a few hours here and there. You never know what you will see, maybe a bear itching himself, or a turtle trying to make a pilgrimage. You might have to work for it and literally drag those critters out of the lake, but, regardless, the way out here takes getting out there. And hey, enjoy the view.