Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Opening Day

Here in New York, the opening day of trout season comes on the first of April. For many Empire State bug-chuckers, opening day signifies the end of a frozen season and relief from a particularly nasty strain of the shack-nasties. My life (read: my wife) required me to be elsewhere on opening day, but that didn't stop a close friend and fishing buddy (read: a real son-of-a-bitch) from doing his best to make me jealous via text messages and email.
Photo: Adam Kettering
For five days I stewed over those messages. When finally I found myself stream side (read: my wife granted me a 1/2 day pass) the season had been open for nearly a week, and even the smallest streams were spilling their banks. I gave it a sincere effort, but the fish - no doubt too busy dodging rolling boulders and avoiding falling trees - did not cooperate. Most of the day I walked the woods with a camera in hand.

And in the course of my wandering I found something very interesting; something I've somehow missed in twenty years of strolling through that little patch of woods.

The inscription reads, "MIKE KANE / Killed here by / unknown assassins / July 26, 1930." I find it difficult to imagine that for twenty years I've walked those river banks in the shadow of a murder. A little digging on the Google machine revealed that Kane's killers were eventually caught - six years after his body was discovered in that spot by the stream.

Several years ago, I came across another interesting piece of history only a quarter-mile from the site of Kane's assassination. My best guess is that it was the foundation of a home or perhaps a root cellar. Whatever it was, all that remains are four walls of stacked stone. With the exception of some moss and a few trees growing up through the center, I imagine those walls today look much as they did a hundred or more years ago.

When I think of all the history tucked quietly into that little valley I find myself wondering what I've likely missed. Too often, I don't look away from the water. Too often, I don't take the time necessary to explore the river's history or to appreciate my part in that story. Maybe when I next go fishing I'll do a little more than just go fishing. Maybe I'll go for a walk, or maybe I'll just sit on the bank and think. Maybe I'll discover some of the river's history, or if I am very lucky, maybe I'll make some history of my own.

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