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(MSFE) The Foggy Lady

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posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 07:59 PM
It was one of those calm evenings, the red sun settling behind a fuzzy gray cloudbank across Lake Huron while boats of all types putted slowly into harbour. Leaning on the boardwalk railings, I slipped into a funk remembering those times when I'd be coming off the lake myself with a salmon or a trout in my fish box. The inboard motor at low revs would be quiet enough to hear the piper on the lighthouse from a mile out. That time of the day, offshore winds would carry the smells of a summer beach town out to greet me...BBQ'd steaks, hot dogs from the beach house stand, even a faint smell of coconut oil from sunbathers would waft their way out to me.

Memories like this put a little smile on my face that evening. Those happy days of fishing miles offshore were some of the most pleasant, almost 'zen like' times of my life. Alone, far out, watching a rod tip for hours, hoping for a tap to spin me to action.

"Hey!" A voice at my side made me turn.
"Hey, you doin'?", I said, recognizing an old fishing buddy; "Been out lately?"
"Naw", he said, "what's the use? I was out this morning, before dawn, but it was flat.'
"Yea, flat water just ain't productive."

I chuckled and watched a sailboat come in, the captain folding sail while a young girl handled the wheel. Nice hull, I thought, noticing the way the water stayed undisturbed in her wake.

"So", Cliff asked, "Hows the Foggy Lady? Haven't seen her around lately..."

Tucking my chin into my chest, I tasted a bit of bile with that.

"I sold her"
Cliff had a puzzled look on his face. "I figured you'd never..."
"Well, I did", cutting him off, "what's a fishing boat without fish?"

Cliffs face clouded over and I could see he was bugged.

"They'll be back", he threw this at me like a dare. "It's just a bad year!"

"Just like the year before and the year before that, Cliff?"

He just looked at me, but I could see the pain in his eyes. I could tell he was giving up hope too.

I looked him straight in the eye and laid a hand on his strong shoulders.

"Cliff...the fish are gone. I dunno if its the Zebra mussels, the cormorant population or the commercial don't matter, the fish are gone, my boat is gone and, man, I miss fishing with you too. You take care, bud..."

I looked one more time over that flat water, turned, and walked away.

[edit on 15-9-2005 by masqua]

posted on Sep, 16 2005 @ 03:14 PM
Hi masqua,

I liked how your story focuses on the destruction of the environment from a single persons perspective. I keenly felt his sense of loss. What I also picked up on was how this person only seemed to not recognize how his loss was part of a much larger picture. This is something that I believe most of us do. We may think about it for an instant, but it quickly becomes overshadowed by our own sense of loss.

I have never heard the term "flat water", and I found it to be ominous in the meaning that it conveyed. I looked up the definition and found that it basically means "A calm lake or river that is not affected by wind, moving water or rapids." The definition itself did not make me feel that being on flat water would be a bad thing, unless you were in a sail boat with no motor.
Is this a term commonly used by fishermen to describe a "dead" lake or river?

At any rate, I love the use of the word in this story because it does much to let the reader know what has happened to the lake. I also liked how the speaker, in a manner that almost seems like denial, only attributes the lack of fish to other creatures or possibly commercial fishing. It is like he refuses to entertain the thought that the lack of fish is a sign of a much larger problem.

I am not sure if this was your intention, but it is something I picked up on. It is what made the story enjoyable for me to read.

posted on Sep, 16 2005 @ 07:30 PM
Thanks, hit a number of nails on the head about the story...

I started it out talking about the sun sinking down behind a "fuzzy gray cloudbank" but left out what that is...smog. I wanted somehow to also bring out the fact that the beach was closed for swimming with the "smell of coconut oil from sunbathers", but, I don't think that came across too easily either.
The beaches in that real beachtown close regularly after rains because of the factory farming near shore. The smell of manure on the fields is absolutely rank until it does and it's a good wind that blows onshore.

"Flat water" is a reference any good fisherman will recognize, because that is the kind of water that 'turns the fish off'. Waves break up the underwater light, making the lures more attractive and the boat tossing about puts 'action' on the lures. But, you're right, flat water has the connotation of 'oily' and 'dead', which I intended. You're very astute and I can see why your own submission to the contest is such a good one.

Lastly, about the conversation between the're right again. I wanted them to be focussed on how they are personally affected and that their loss is only "I miss fishing with you too" as if it doesn't matter about the state of the lake at all, just that having to sell the boat brings up bile.

The Zebra mussels are quite likely the cause of the disappearance of the fish in Lake Huron (one of North Americas Great Lakes, btw). These little suckers eat the very small forms of life which in turn deprive food for the minnows which are, in turn, a staple for the bigger 'sport fish'. The loss of the 'bottom' breaks up the food chain to the very 'top', if you get my drift.

The lesson is there for all of us...we're at the top of the food chain too. We depend on nature for so much but really don't care too much what impact we have on her as long as the cash flows in. However, seafood is a huge staple for the worlds populations and if we were to lose the fish in the oceans and lakes (as is happening), we, at the top of the food chain will eventually end up as the salmon and trout did...gone.

Thanks for giving me a chance to explain it a bit.
BTW have you noticed member Hellmutt's signature yet? If you haven't, watch for it...I think you'd like it.


[edit on 16-9-2005 by masqua]

posted on Sep, 17 2005 @ 06:52 PM
Hi masqua,

I cant say I have seen Hellmutt's signature, but I will keep my eye out for it.

Thanks for the heads up.

posted on Oct, 1 2005 @ 12:39 AM
Hi masqua,
I wanted to wish you congrats! Yours was a really good story.

posted on Oct, 1 2005 @ 08:02 PM
Very good story Masqua. Even though it had to be concise you managed to express a very dire and realistic situation related to our fragile earth through a simple conversation between two men regarding a boat. Very well written

posted on Oct, 1 2005 @ 08:07 PM
Thanks, worldwatcher and was fun writing the story, great to have the chance to put it into a contest here at ATS and totally sweet that it won a prize.

Sure would be fun to go 1000 words sometime. (or more)

posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 01:14 PM
Hey Masqua,

A little late, but I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this story. It was really my favorite out of the stories submitted for the MSFE contest. Congratulations on placing! Hope to compete with you again in the next contest


posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 05:41 PM
It's been almost 5 years since I wrote the story and 10 years since I sold the Foggy Lady.

She was a beautiful boat, a Wilker... specifically made for the Great Lakes and completely fitted out for trolling in deep water. Electric downriggers, state-of-the art fishfinder, top of the line rods and reels and all the safety equipment made her a pleasure to operate in waves and wind that much larger boats could never handle. It was sized just right to balance the typical wave lengths between trough and crest, so that the prow would never be forced down into the next wave because her butt was still riding high on the last one.

She was wide and beautiful... white with blue trim and I miss that boat terribly.

The ugly truth is that the fish still haven't come back all these years later. The Foggy Lady, if I still had her, would only be a sad hulk waiting on my lot for a summer day of either bombing around the lake (hellisly powerful inboard) or anchored offshore as a diving platform. Not what she was built for.

I still have all my gear collecting dust in my basement. Pity.

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