Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 28

Thread: Eating Bear

  1. #1

    Default Eating Bear

    Well, finally, B#TCH-CREEK NYMPHING & THE MILLENNIUM BUG is on the presses and being printed this very week. From there it's off to the bookbinders and I should have copies in my grubby little hands by mid Sept. In celebration of the fact, herewith another story from the book ;

    EATING BEAR

    “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.” – Joan Armitrading (I think?)

    This is a story about snake eyes, or rather one pair in particular, belonging to a spitting cobra that once I met. But I must start at the beginning. Towards the tail end of the summer of 1984, cyclone Demoina came to pay her respects. Torrential rains buffeted our eastern seaboard clear through to the steep slopes draining off the high Drakensberg scarp. She might indeed have been a lady, but let there be no ambiguity, just like the occasional roisterous girl one might happenstance meet, Demoina came packing muscular weaponry concealed beneath her swirling skirts.

    Tropical cyclones are not uncommon in the Mozambican Channel, yet ordinarily though they might pummel the jewel islands off the African coast, they do little more than kiss the continent’s shores, then turn back out to sea, spending themselves and their girlish vapours over the empty ocean vastness. On the few occasions when one might venture further inland, once deprived of the warm surface waters off which all cyclones feed they soon weaken and most dissipate rapidly.

    But Demoina was different. She was a belle with a taste for travel and Africa beckoned. She came ashore somewhere along the forsaken coast of northern Mocambique and kept going south by southwest, a cyclone on safari. In January of 1984 more than 750mm of rain was measured at St Lucia within twenty-four hours.

    As far away as Underberg the bottom fell out of the barometer and things got weird when Demoina hit town, or rather the mountains around town. There she wrung out whatever rain was left in her voluminous skirts. The deluge sculpted the terrain anew, altering stream flows, carving channels through strata that had endured for millennia, assigning new flood plains, tearing up the countryside and generally disrupting familiar perspectives. Twenty years later her effect upon the landscape is still visible in many places. To this day the old road bridge across the Umkomaas, just outside Bulwer, bears the scars. It stands just off Route 617, closed to traffic, a monument affirming that indeed Demoina was one high-spirited lass, truly a wild and wonderful child of Mother Nature.

    Along with all her girlish flutter, Demoina came bearing a satchel full of benefactions for a simple fisherman such as myself. At that time, Jozini Dam had already been built, constructed on the Pongola River downstream from the Swaziland border. But there was a problem. When filled, the waters would back up, flooding the river basin clear into Swaziland. And with no political consensus between South Africa and the Swazi government, the dam stood empty while bureaucrats wrangled and bickered petulantly among themselves.

    Who would have thought it figures? Along came Demoina, resolving all disputes, settling in an instant the irreconcilable altercation that had dragged on seemingly forever. The dam that had stood empty, a white elephant for so many years, almost filled overnight. Score one for the tigerfish and for the birth of a new fishery within our borders. Never more would tigerfish anglers need to head north into the turbulence of darkest equatorial Africa, or endure the excesses of bold Zimbabwean experiments in self-affirmation. Now we could go tigerfishing at home, in the social turbulence of our own backyard.

    Memory is a fragile thing. Unless they hit us directly, we soon forget the travails that natural cataclysms bring. And so it was that Demoina soon slipped from blanket coverage on the front page to page three pinup, to a few centimetres lost among the obituaries.

    A few months later, long after Demoina had lost her cover-girl status, I found myself fishing the upper reaches of the mighty Umzimkulu River. Cognoscenti will know that the stretch flowing between Tretower and Riverlea, though full of lively fish, seldom harbours many trout of trophy proportions. Any fish between one to two kilograms would be a conspicuous catch. You usually find the bigger fish further downstream, though there too they are not exactly common. But, for a few short months, the cyclone changed all that.

    It happened thus. The late Billy Hughes, master of fair Riverlea and long a doyen among the pioneer flyfishers of Underberg, maintained a population of trophy trout in the farm’s dams. The causeways were well built and never gave way in the floodwaters, unlike many other earth-walled impoundments in the region. But, unhappily, the vast torrent gushing over the dam wall left its mark, washing most of poor Billy’s carefully nurtured trophies into the river below.

    Word somehow got out, finding me at that time still living in Johannesburg, comfortably ensconced in suburbia among the yuppie scum. In a trice I had the studio doors closed and took off for the southern Drakensberg on a five-day weekend. I was headed for Riverlea.

    In the old offices of the Underberg Trout Flyfishing Club at the hotel, Billy, doubling as the club manager, dug his heels in obdurately and tried hard to steer me on to some other river beat. Me? I tried to feign dumb ignorance while gushing obsequious subtleties. There we were, me an unstoppable force and him an immovable object. Eventually Billy blinked and issued my rod ticket, along with his signature withering stare, wordlessly challenging me to so much as prick one of his precious fish, which for once they truly were.

    I hit the river just above its confluence with the Umzimkulwana and fished for a while, moving upstream toward the boundary with Rainbow farm. The river flowed robustly. Bouncing a small, weighted olive nymph through the gravels below riffled water yielded a half dozen fish in the course of the morning. I returned them all and kept hunting, searching for the big one. The fierce midday sun drove me off the water, so I spooled in my line and headed for the nearest shade, where I retreated into a bankside coppice to eat lunch.

    Later, with the sun well past its zenith, I headed downstream. Just past the old hatchery pumphouse I fed a Walker’s killer into the current and played out the line, almost to the end of its backing. The fly was thrumming in the current almost a hundred metres away when one of Billy’s escaped trout picked it up. The fish surged downstream, with me stumbling and crashing gracelessly behind it, desperate to recover line back on to the reel.

    From the weight I knew it to be bigger than any trout I had ever caught in a river. At the end of my three-weight Orvis Western it felt like a bloody marlin. Somehow I prevailed and the fish came to net. In my excitement all thought of Billy disappeared from my mind as with trembling adrenalin-driven hands I dispatched the most exquisite six-pound rainbow trout I’d ever seen. I sat at the river’s edge, savouring the prize, complete and replete. Truly, I had eaten the bear. I was done for the day.

    Hoisting fish and rod, I turned to leave. Just there the river had scoured its path between vertical walls in an ancient cobbled terrace. I would make my own path up the steep bank. The ground was soft and crumbled beneath me as I struggled up with fish and rod in one hand. As I neared the top, my foot slipped and I grabbed with my free hand at a tussock of grass growing over the rim. Gripping firmly, I pulled myself upwards until my eyes were just about level with the crest of the bank. There, about a half-metre away, a large and angry rinkhals (spitting cobra), refulgent in a new skin glistening as black as jet with narrow bright lemon bands, challenged me for the right of way. With hood flared proudly and a full third of his sinuous body raised in the air above me, I conceded, simply letting go and falling back into the rushing stream below.

    At this point the hard edges of recollection blur, but the encounter ended with me sitting on a rock some way downstream, bedraggled, soggy and extremely fishless. As I hit the water I had let go of everything. In the confusion of my ignominious downstream tumble I managed by some miracle to snag my precious Orvis before the current could carry it away. Adding insult to injury, the butt section was cracked and the rod would need to fly to Vermont in the US for repair. I would be deprived of its use for months to come. In time it would return, refurbished, as good as new. But with my fish – well, Billy’s fish – I was not so lucky. The river had reclaimed it as entirely as if it had never been. And there I sat, a shivering lump of bruised, rodless, fishless, bear meat.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Cape Town
    Posts
    2,764

    Default

    Awesome story thanks for sharing it
    The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being! Paulo Coelho

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    5,292
    Blog Entries
    19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Surly Ghillie View Post
    Well, finally, B#TCH-CREEK NYMPHING & THE MILLENNIUM BUG is on the presses and being printed this very week. From there it's off to the bookbinders and I should have copies in my grubby little hands by mid Sept. In celebration of the fact, herewith another story from the book ;

    EATING BEAR

    “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.” – Joan Armitrading (I think?)

    Ian Mathews(folk singer)i think?

    Fantastic reading.the storie Comes alive on the page.

    cheers
    I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.
    James Boswell.


    [T]his planet is covered with sordid men who demand that he who spends time fishing shall show returns in fish. ~Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.

  4. #4

    Default

    could well be.

    I first heard it in the eighties....off an old Joan Armitrading lp... (who out there remebers vinyl?) but don't know who the writer is ~ or was. hence the hedging.

    thanks all for the positive comments on the stories
    Last edited by Surly Ghillie; 26-08-07 at 06:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    5,292
    Blog Entries
    19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Surly Ghillie View Post
    could well be.

    I first heard it in the eighties....off an old Joan Armitrading lp... (who out there remebers vinyl?) but know who the writer is ~ or was. hence the hedging.

    thanks all for the positive comments on the stories
    When i emigrated i had to leave the vinly behind i recently had it shipped over forgot how organic vinyl was. Cnnot beat listen to Dylan on vinyl.
    I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.
    James Boswell.


    [T]his planet is covered with sordid men who demand that he who spends time fishing shall show returns in fish. ~Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.

  6. #6

    Default

    recently treated myself by having all my old lp's transfered onto cd... my cd collection went from about 5 to 500 in one fell swoop...... not quite the same..

    but at least i get to listen to the 60's & early seventies again. everything from dylan to janis joplin, traffic, BS&T, led zep..... zappa, beefheart, hendrix, mayal...... the lot . of course all that does is convince my happy little family that I really am beyond help.... the opinion around here is that i am even beyond medication.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    5,292
    Blog Entries
    19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Surly Ghillie View Post
    recently treated myself by having all my old lp's transfered onto cd... my cd collection went from about 5 to 500 in one fell swoop...... not quite the same..

    but at least i get to listen to the 60's & early seventies again. everything from dylan to janis joplin, traffic, BS&T, led zep..... zappa, beefheart, hendrix, mayal...... the lot . of course all that does is convince my happy little family that I really am beyond help.... the opinion around here is that i am even beyond medication.
    After i introduced my wife to Bob Dylan she gave me my own room to listen to music (not a big fan), so next i thought lets try "The incredible string band" the responce was unprintable,(nearly got my own house )
    so just to finish hear of i played "don't eat yellow snow" By Mr Zappa,
    songs about Eskimos and drinking Husky P1ss just did not cut itfor her.......I have now got my own room and a cracking set of cordless headphones....
    I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.
    James Boswell.


    [T]his planet is covered with sordid men who demand that he who spends time fishing shall show returns in fish. ~Leonidas Hubbard, Jr.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Vandia Grove, Gauteng
    Posts
    4,055

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nicholas View Post
    After i introduced my wife to Bob Dylan she gave me my own room to listen to music (not a big fan), so next i thought lets try "The incredible string band" the responce was unprintable,(nearly got my own house )
    so just to finish hear of i played "don't eat yellow snow" By Mr Zappa,
    songs about Eskimos and drinking Husky P1ss just did not cut itfor her.......I have now got my own room and a cracking set of cordless headphones....
    You and SG both have excellent taste in music if not in anything else!!

  9. #9

    Default

    Nope. you got that wrong. our taste (or is that flavour?) in women is just as exquisite). Then of course there is our natural & classical good looks ~ what can I say? A thing of beaty is a joy forever!!

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nicholas View Post
    After i introduced my wife to Bob Dylan she gave me my own room to listen to music (not a big fan), so next i thought lets try "The incredible string band" the responce was unprintable,(nearly got my own house )
    so just to finish hear of i played "don't eat yellow snow" By Mr Zappa,
    songs about Eskimos and drinking Husky P1ss just did not cut itfor her.......I have now got my own room and a cracking set of cordless headphones....
    big mistake... you should rather have tried her out on Dynamo Hum, or perhaps T*tties & Bear, or Jewish Princess... anything rather than the dread Yellow Snow . what i don't understand is how could anyone get agitated over Increadible String Band?

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •