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Friday, Feb. 22, 2002
I just peered out my window into the pre-dawn to check. Yes, it's still there. That little protruberance coming from the back of the truck. The boat is on the way back to the lake.

Stu and I finally hauled it out yesterday, half filled with leaves from some desperately shedding tree last fall. In a sort of careless way we let it fester that way for the winter, telling ourselves that "Hey, it's only a boat. We've got a pressure washer and all sorts of chemical technology for clean up day."

Indeed, we do have the technology. A pressure washer big enough to warrant a seat, for starters. The sort of fire hose pressure that backs you up when you pull the trigger. And for some reason, I volunteered to be the puller of said trigger. I took the upper half of the rainsuit proffered by Stu but shook off the pants with suspenders, not wishing to look overmuch like a fireman just for the sake of hosing out a boat.

After five minutes of Niagara-like spraying I wished that I had. I wished for the boots and the hat and the goggles as well. But the clean up was coming along nicely. The imprints of moldy leaves disappeared, the dirt flew away, and the gleam of high impact plastic began to reappear under the force of water pressure from the incredibly loud machine.

We stood the boat on end to drain and dry out in the 70-degree sun, and laid me out along side of it to do the same. Stu began laying out the various accouterments of the freshwater mariner in the parking lot, chuckling over anchors, rope, life jackets, seats, electronic fish finders, coolers, pumps, batteries and trolling motors. We took inventory, we rationalized, we mentally calculated the immediate need for a trip to the bait shop on a pre-shopping spree tour. No matron in high heels is as thorough and maddeningly cluckish about shopping as the spring fisherman let loose in the bait store after a long winter.

I lay there in the sun and dreamed of 12-pound bass and tackle boxes and shirtless days spent lounging on a small boat in the middle of a lake. Wondering what it is, after all, that makes grown people and children alike yearn for the chance at throwing a perfectly happy worm into the water and waiting, waiting for the tug that may come. Trying to calculate how much money was spent in pursuit of a cooler full of bream or shellcracker or white perch. Then immediately trying to not think of that.

I'll let the catfish tell me. We catch a fair amount of them on the lake and they talk, you know. It's a croaking sort of guttural catfish-speak but it's perfectly understandable. When we pull the hook from their whiskery mouth they say, "Having a good time?"

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