As we all well know, words can mean more than their literal (denotation) definitions. Take the word “cool” for example. Although its exact meaning is in the realm of varying degrees of cold, it is also used equally as being distant, dispassionate or describing all things excellent as in the early rock ‘n roll jargon like “that’s cool daddyo!” For many of us “cool” is also a word we heard in a phrase from parents, teachers or other authority figures as in “Cool it!” to settle or calm down.
For those of us who dwell in the woods and water world, “strange” and “remarkable” are literal/implied words we use to label some of our outings and experiences. Curious, bizarre, peculiar and downright weird are just a few of the others.
A good case in point regarding how strange and remarkable fit in this outdoor world is well represented in our recent fishing outings where unbelievable things have almost become commonplace. Recently, for example, we have not only seen loons with their juvenile chicks swimming side-by-side, but have witnessed not one, but two loon fish captures, complete with the head laid back and swallowing of said fish. These fish, by the way, were not of the sardine-size, but in the realm of six-inch perch.
We were also intrigued by the abundance of crayfish parts (mostly orange pincers) regurgitated from perch and walleyes as well as young of the year perch we found in the innards when we cleaned fish. Also curious was how the bottom of an iced cooler turned a not so pleasant colored brown from the crappies caught that are now feeding and excreting various bottom-hugging bugs.
Adding to our fishing people’s delight, we boated a dogfish (it didn’t bark, unfortunately), an eelpout (lawyer), a freshwater drum (also called a sheepshead) and witnessed a northern pike latch onto a perch crossways and try to wrestle it away from an excited angler. When asked why the name “drum,” by the way, we tried to divert the issue and reference it as actually a “northern white crappie,” but that didn’t fly Orville, so we had to clandestinely look it up, pretending to be answering important emails. What we found was the drum earned its name because of the grunting noises mature males make that come from a special set of muscles within their body cavities which vibrate against the swim bladders.
After seeing and asking about the 4-wheelers and mildly reeking buckets and past prime, but still sweet, pastry and candy-laden trucks, for those who have never been around bears or bear hunting, hearing about how we hunt them here in Minnesota was for sure “curious.” Also incredulous for those who have not been around youth sports or even youngsters for a while was the current “gummy bear-like” snack rage that come in the form of a fish, hence the name, “Swedish Fish.” Unbelievably, these have actually been around since the 1950s and the package calls them “fat free food.” Inconceivable!
For the classic rock fans, “strange” was the basis for the Jim Morrison and The Doors 1967 song, “People are Strange.” Written by Robbie Krieger and Morrison, The Doors released the song in September 1967 when, after a bout with depression, Jim took his friend and fellow songwriter Robbie Krieger to a canyon to watch a sunset and Jim confided to Robbie he was, indeed, depressed. Having said that, Jim then wrote: “If you’re strange, people are strange/Faces look ugly when you’re alone.” The rest of the lyrics on being alienated, include, “When you’re strange/Faces come out of the rain/When you’re strange/No one remembers your name/When you’re strange.”
Think about it for a second. If Jim Morrison and a host of other past and present “stars” (labeled thusly because they shine majestically larger than life above us as if heavenly) are depressed when they seemingly have the world in tow, along with money and all the opulence it can buy, why can’t anybody be afflicted? This, of course, is re-enforced by the old adage, “Money can buy happiness.” To literarily support this, simply look to Edwin Arlington Robinson’s 1897 narrative (story) poem, “Richard Cory,” about a wealthy, well-educated, but ill-fated by his own hand man, who “fluttered pulses” and “glittered when he walked.” The poem title also became a 1965 song written by Paul Simon that appeared in Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 album (their second), “The Sounds of Silence.”
It goes without saying, those of us who love our four seasons welcome summer’s slow-walk into autumn. We smile when it’s jacket time and ducks and geese are on the wing. As the days get shorter, however, let’s put aside our excitement for our fall hunting and take a moment to consider how Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics, “Hello darkness, my old friend/I’ve come to talk to you again” from their soul-searching 1966 song, “The Sounds of Silence,” are not just an anthem to the beauty of the night. They might just be haunting hails from the life-shadowed voices who are “yearning to be free” from a darkness that blankets even the sunniest day and to be, even in a small way, part of something.
As we embrace the funny, uncanny, extraordinary and exhilarating happenings that candle our lives in times of happiness and flutter over us like the “wings of a snow-white dove” (Ferlin Husky’s 1960 song), let’s make it a point to help those who sadly call this darkness their “old friend.” Let’s also understand, words can hurt and help. Let’s help those in the shadows realize nearby there is a candle lit for them, one which will “take them away” on that magical mystery tour of which the Beatles sang.
When we do, our world will be that much warmer from the candles that have found new friends. We will leave you with a quote from author Roy T. Bennett, “Be the reason someone smiles today.”
Nik and Rod Dimich are on the pro staffs of Mercury Marine and Ray’s Sport & Marine in Grand Rapids, Minn. Rod is also a pro-staffer for L&M Supply. To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: email@example.com. Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.