You’d think that I’ve had learned from the Great Flood and Fishing Expedition of ’08 but no, there I was again yesterday, feet soaked, scouring the dirt paths and the fields for crickets for Bernard & Stephan, after I’d succeeded in 20 minutes in losing Bernard’s olive and my weight thing-a-ma-jig to the etang and been demoted from apprentice fisherman to rookie scourer for bait. Stephan had just finished saying they were the ideal bait for the interesting medium-sized fish that kept sniffing haughtily at his faux-fish bait when we heard them and I said, “I’m on it.” Five minutes later I returned and told a skeptical Bernard, “Um, they’re enclosed in a fence on the field.” ‘C’est rien!,” “That’s nothing!” Bernard chided me, “Climb the fence!” I instead took a different chemin, returning 20 minutes later with one of those thin things that kind of looks like a wasp without a stinger — pretty pathetic, I couldn’t even catch a fly but had to settle for an insect slower and more vulnerable. “Will this work?” Stephan was game to try it, ditto the beetle that was my next catch. Finally Bernard got into the game. “Paul! Paul!” he called. “Give this to Stephan.” “Mais — ca pique!” I demurred, looking down doubtfully at the struggling bee Bernard held at bay at the end of a sprig of weed. He stabbed at it some more but it still struggled on, whereupon brave Paul took the sprig and life in hand and carried it over to Stephan on the other side of the etang.
On the way home Stephan suddenly pulled up the car and he and Bernard bolted eagerly out on the road. I thought maybe they knew the man and two kids arrested behind us and got out to say hello, just in time to see what looked like one of the hybrid pig-boars I’d heard about (in vogue among some cheating hunters because they’re slower then full boars) — color of a pig, face of a boar but not quite so ugly — scurry awkwardly across the road and disappear into the woods. It turned out to be a moccasin or baby boar. I rushed excitedly down the road to get a closer look; when I came back Bernard scolded, “Be careful, it’s mother is probably somewhere.” I’d forgotten the lesson I’d learned 18 years ago in my short-lived story as the Great Moose Hunter of Anchorage.
Last night I was back to the one hunting metier in which I’ve demonstrated some success and — snap, it’s official, I’m now into double digits on mice.