That Old Familiar Tug
This post is contributed by Coastal Rivers Trustee Barnaby Porter. Read the previous post here.
Editor’s note: This piece is from Barnaby’s archive.
There’s a song that sings, “June is busting out all over,” and it’s true. In May, when things first green up, the land all around has the appearance of tidiness under the gentle spell of new growth. There is still an openness to the woods that allows birds’ songs to carry far, and weeding the just-planted garden is only a simple chore. The lilac outside the kitchen window hesitates to unfold its curling leaves; its greatest effort spent in building lavender buds.
But then, with the coming of lettuce and lupines and clouds of mosquitoes, June settles over the land like a lush green wave in all its many hues. The oaks and maples fill out with full dark leaves, while hemlock and fir, in layered boughs, primp themselves with the pale green tips of new branchlets.
No longer is keeping the green a simple task. Sickle and scythe feel the whetstone once more, and they sing through juicy stems laden with spittlebugs and leaf hoppers. Sow thistle, daisies and vetch, at their peak, sway in the wind with the grasses. Sadly, I call the man with the tractor to mow it all down before the alders and black cherry encroach too much on our hard-won open space.
And no sooner is the grass laid low than the swallows swoop in to field the insects that hover in the sweet-scented breezes. And down in the back corner, three black crows stalk their new hunting ground for beetles and voles.
Such is June, bursting at the seams in all its vitality.
I see it out in the river too, where rafts of young eiders, whole flotillas, wend their way among the ledges. Under their busy webbed feet, mussels let out silky jets of spawn, and overhead, the osprey lumbers along with another stick to mend its bristling nest.
And of course, it’s June when the jellyfish again fill the green water like so many pale white parachutes, and I know it’s time to trail a line behind my boat for mackerel. I know they’re there and that I’ll catch one, but oh what a treat, the surprise of that first sudden strike.
Soon one hits my silvery hook, and I feel that old familiar tug, immediately recognizable, as an old friend, soon to appear in iridescent green alongside.
With several more of my pretty fish, I trudge up the hill for supper – fresh mackerel, boiled potatoes and peas – a favorite supper. I linger as evening settles outside, standing on the front steps. The night air is filled with lightning bugs – drifting flashes of light. Truly, June is busting out all over.
Artist and author Barnaby Porter has had a varied career in marine research, aquaculture, and woodworking, among others. Most recently he partnered with his wife Susan as co-owners of the Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe in downtown Damariscotta. Barnaby currently serves on Coastal Rivers’ Board of Trustees. For more about Barnaby, click here.