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FROM THE VALLEY: Like A Fish Out Of Water

By Tom Valley

My wife. Kathie, and I had to close up our go-to summer shanty on the St.

Lawrence River last week. It's sad. I'd gotten used to being there and will miss


But with the chilly weather of October knocking on the door, it was time.

The river, itself, dropped from 72 to 67 degrees in the last couple of weeks

and was quickly losing its summer charm. FYI: The river doesn't exhibit the

characteristics of thermocline (such as Lake Ontario does) – where the

temperature varies at different depths. “Flipping over” is not in the river's

repertoire. (Just in case you're on Jeopardy, and that happens to come up.)

That point is relevant because we literally sit atop the river and it acts like a

furnace sitting below when the air is cooler than the water. We can count on

the heat to radiate through the floor and keep us comfortably warm. But when

Mother Nature decides to turn that utility off – and the water gets cold - it's

time to pack up and go home.

Longtime acquaintance and friend, Bob McGrath, was a big help in the

process of buckling the place up this year. He's a lifelong river-rat who knows

his way around the whats-and-hows of camp-life. His expertise is exceeded

only by his genuine kindheartedness. (The preceding was paid for and

“approved” by Bob McGrath. Okay, I made that part up.)

I caught some fish this year. Not a lot, but some. I'm saddened by the

diminished number and size of the perch population (among other species).

People point to cormorants (birds) as the terrorists responsible for the on-going

genocide. These water turkeys are inundating the river system. They not only

consume over a pound of fish everyday, they are destroying countless trees

along the way. It's sad that this isn't addressed in a more aggressive manner

such as the precise culling of deer to keep a proper balance in check. (The

preceding was paid for and “approved” by every fisherman I know. Okay, I

made that up, too.)

Despite – and also because of the the just-cited problem - I did manage to

catch some small perch. How small? Well, the only way I could haul them in

was when the worms got them in a headlock. Oh yeah ... that's small. Those

that I kept, I filleted with my fingernail.

Actually, I throw most of them back. And when I do, I regularly break into a

chorus of Elvis' “Return to Sender.” It seems appropriate. I'm no Elvis but with

no one in the boat to challenge me, I act like I am. Just thought you should

know that. Full disclosure is how I roll.

And just in case the weather gets surly, I have an abundance of the latest

news-magazines on hand. They are about the only things I read ... plus their

puzzles are challenging. I saw an interesting article from not long ago. It caught

my eye because it was indicative of the Dark Ages we are reliving – as far as

common-sense goes.

A British hair-salon owner, Alison Birch, was told by the Department for

Work and Pensions to cease and desist her help-wanted ad in which she sought

to hire “a happy stylist.” 'Why is that?' you ask. Because, she, according to that

administrative body, had “discriminated against unhappy people.”

I'll give you a second to reread and digest that. It's true. And thanks, by the

way, for asking why.

Seriously, what in the name of funny, seventy-thousand dollar hairdo tax-

breaks is going on? (The preceding comment was ... well, it's a long story. And

I didn't make it up.)

Unfortunately, it seems like our society is looping in that figure-eight

infinity symbol with no way to escape the insanity. There's no end in sight from

the absurd times we live in.

Stop and think about it: If you are being politically-correct and discriminate

against no one, are you not discriminating against someone who isn't politically

correct? Holy crap, Marie. Frankly, I'm baffled.

Finally, and as I try to unravel what I just said, this last tidbit. While I was at

the river, I got a chance to work on my book. Yes, I know, as a professed non-

reader what gives me the nerve, the sheer audacity to be working on a book?

Well, quite simply, I love to color.

That's it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Ladies and gentlemen ... Elvis has left the building.

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.

Tom and Kathie Vallley on their beloved St. Lawrence River

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