When Mother Nature turns her back on you, pay her attention. She will not alter her hostile stance. She is obdurate.
Earlier this summer I wrote about Hidden Lake, a fishing inlet in the lovely forests of the Delaware Water Gap. A tourist official had recommended it, so we New Yorkers drove there. We carried our gear down the steep banks to this charming secluded nook, only to find a table with an electric broiler on the bank and an elderly woman in a black bathing suit making a speech. She went on at length about how she had always gone swimming here, and eaten a pork chop each time and now she could no longer swim but would have her chop. Her mate, an ordinary looking chap, seemed not to be listening.
Discreetly, we’d kept all our activities about as far away as we could; the fishermen in our family carefully baited their hooks and waited, poised hopefully. Suddenly, a Japanese gentleman appeared on the shore followed by his small dog. They walked past us, the gentleman eyed the fishing rods and he said, “You need to put worms on your hooks,” and he and his dog moved on. Only to return minutes later and repeat the action and the words again. And again! So we recognized the futility of our mission, packed up, and departed. Mother Nature did not mean Hidden Lake for us.
This past weekend we were back in that forest. And it seemed to one of us that the insanity of our early adventures was surely just that. Which one of us thought of it is unclear. And no one claims credit. We decided to give Hidden Lake another try. Surely, surely the dramatis personae of our previous misadventures were gone. Hadn’t the Tourist official recommended it to us?
So we went back and we brought some friends along as well. Well, no broiler, no pork chop, no Japanese gentleman. The place looked peaceful and welcoming. How foolish of us to have mistaken a bad day for more than it was!
Those eager to fish prepared their rods and baited their hooks. They then went down to the water’s edge. Whereupon a cloud of mosquitos and flies and bugs and other insects rose up to bite ankles and legs and arms and fingers and necks. All of these pests had been concealed by the reeds and bushes and were lying in wait in the wet grass waiting for us. For delicious New Yorkers! Our fishermen and women tried heroically but they itched and scratched and slapped – and surrendered quickly. Only one fisherman was stalwart enough to stand fast and catch a fish!
So I write this to salute my 13 year old bar mitzvah grandson, Gabriel Klass, soon to be son of the commandment. He stood still, got bitten and scratched and caught a sunfish (also known, alas, as a “crappie”) during the pestilence. Gabriel was brave and determined.
Among his bar mitzvah presents there will surely be a copy of Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA!
As far as I am concerned, Hidden Lake can remain just that forever. Malevolent Mother Nature may keep it for her very own. It is best kept very very well hidden!