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Oh, warm clothing and frozen poo

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POSTED October 20, 2010 2:40 a.m.
Since Manteca Unified School District has more high school students than Prince of Wales Island has residents you probably didn’t hear about the 75-mile per hour winds that knocked out power on the entire island, isolating it from mail and cutting ATM machines off from the money bags that supply them. I contemplated calling mom’s school weak for giving kids and teachers the day off in light of there being no power, because we’ve gone without power here for part of the school day, but the argument was a little too unreasonable.

I don’t miss that part of Alaska, wind that shakes buildings and the stench of hundreds of thousands of fish carcasses washed ashore in the bay after drifting down river. Its a funk so intense that it infiltrates classrooms. Running cross country races on gravel roads when its 40 degrees and the clouds are shooting staples at exposed skin, or traveling to basketball games in four-seat airplanes and the pilot de-iced by taking a broom to the wings (exposing at least a few pieces of duct tape in the process) are not nearly as fun as they might sound.

It’s much gentler here, and I love it. The gradual curve of the seasons and the slight bite of temperature that allows me to pull out hooded sweatshirts and fleece from my gear room. I like twigs glazed in frost, delivering snow men to my buddy Gary’s yard, and walking across damp fields and meadows, over cold puddles lined with rose- and bronze-colored leaves, fly-rod in hand. I like warm clouds of breath and long shadows that extend in chilly, yet straight lines from the top of the bluffs above Knights Ferry and our favorite trout spots that will soon be closed. I like the fog sitting below the levees that separate field from fish and the overwhelming orange morning sky that shyly burns it off.

Even more than all this, I like my winter clothes.

When I consulted my gray hooded sweatshirt Monday, it had a small trout spinner in the front pocket which makes it difficult to pin-point the last time it reached the wash. It easily passed the smell check and there were no obvious blood, slime, dirt, mud, coffee or campfire stains so the last wear must have been a light one.

My blue Grundens hooded sweatshirt is by far my favorite. Its thick, hearty and has a double hood so even in the rain the worthless-when-wet cotton is thick enough to insulate. It also has one of those secret zip pockets in the front pouch.

If it is possible to feel more like a fisherman because of what you wear, nothing makes me feel more like a true angler than when I fit my waders over that faded blue pullover.

Its been poked by the spines of ling cod, slimed by silver salmon and smeared by campfire charcoal. It’s simple, and synonymous with catching fish.

I don’t have much expensive stuff because I blow all my money on my annual trip to Alaska and the rest of my money trying to keep my lines wet around here.

I just want to be warm and what I’ve got works for here. I’m fine with that and the fact that there won’t be any storms that keep my orders of flies from making it down from Redding or Montana.

I will say, though, I still laugh like Beavis whenever I think about the time we decided to go outside in the breeze that made it 30-degrees below zero to see if frozen dog poop would shatter when thrown against the street.
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