Last Saturday was one of the best days I’ve ever had at the Hollow.
It didn’t start that way. I woke up to a gray and damp day, and by mid-morning, it had started to rain. It wasn’t enough rain to even start refilling the pond, and it petered out. By noon, it had become a lovely, breezy summer day, with temperatures in the low 70s, a blue sky with puffy white clouds, and just enough breeze to be refreshing. It was delicious weather–there is no other way to describe it.
I’d been skunked during the last couple of trips to the Hollow, and last July was an angling dud. This trip, they were biting better, and I got a bit more adventurous in trying out some different lures. Although it was a sunny day, which often seems to discourage our fish, this turned into a day of incredible fishing. After catching a dozen or so bluegills off the dam, I decided to try my luck at the relatively new section of pond that had excavated in the back a few years ago. I loaded up all three fishing rods, putting a small surface popper on the ultralight spinner (with a clear plastic float to give it enough weight to cast), a small jig on the second rod, and the biggest jig I’ve got on the third rod.
I sat on a large boulder that our Amish excavator had placed on the edge of the back 1/3 of the pond, and started casting towards the other hillside, about 30′ across the pond. I caught pan fish on each of the first 5 casts. Noticing that one of those lunker bass was lurking in that section of the pond, I tried the big jig. A large plastic minnow with a single hook and a lead head for weight, the jig was too heavy for the ultralight spin cast rod & reel I tied it onto (I was too lazy to untie whatever was on the medium weight spin cast rod & reel). I cast it across the pond, narrowly missing a fallen tree and the far shore, and started reeling it in. Wham! A bass latched onto it before I’d reeled it in more than 10′. The largemouth don’t really put up a fight like the bluegills and sunfish, but still, catching a 3 pounder in your own pond is a thrill. I wasn’t sure if the 4# test line would pull him out of the water, so I landed him on the shore, grabbed him by the lower lip, and after I finished admiring him, he went back–hopefully to raise up a brood of bass like they did last year.
The beautiful breezy weather meant that it was a perfect day for inner tubing. Admittedly, the pond can get…well, not scummy, but still kinda messy, with an oily film full of dead bug bits, pollen, and whatever comes from the pond up, and the trees down. The best floating requires a light breeze to send the floating film to the far side of the pond, and discourage horse flies. Elizabeth and Kirk, who unfortunately were not with me, are a lot less keen on the organic swimming pool, but this weather would have been perfect for them. I floated around for a while on one of the floats that Steve Towne and I bought 10 years ago when we spent a weekend at the Hollow with our boys (perhaps fitting for the news of that week, the floats are purple, and are labeled ‘Thriller’). I did a bit of swimming, and then dried off to go for a walk to some of the spots I don’t regularly visit.
The western slope of the Hollow was planted with white pine, maybe about 50 years ago. It used to be an intimate little pine grove, with several inches of fallen needles and a lovely Christmasy fragrance. The trees got bigger, and some of them are at least 60′ high and almost 2′ across at the base (log cabin?). We should have thinned the trees, which are too close together, and now sort of messy, but it is still a breezy and relative open part of the Hollow. On days like last Saturday, it has a distinct and pleasant pine smell. Walking through the pines to the southern property line and the upper meadow, I found a sycamore tree that I didn’t know about, bringing the total to 5.
After dad and I cleared the downed tree and stump a couple days earlier, we were able to bush hog the upper meadow, which is a bright but cool and breezy spot. The clearing has been there as long as we own the Hollow, and we’ve been mowing it, on and off, for at least 20 years. There have probably been raspberries all along, but I never really noticed them until the last few years. It seems like the number of berry thickets has increased significantly over the last few years. Certainly the big ice storm and last year’s ‘tornado’ opened up a lot of the forest floor to sunlight, but that doesn’t really explain why the periphery of this clearing should so many more raspberry bushes than it ever has had in the past. I’d been watching the berries ripen all week, and had picked enough to share with my parents a couple days earlier. Saturday, the berries were finally coming into their own. I picked and ate a couple handfuls, and then walked down the trail that we’d cleared.
I finished my walk in the SE corner of the Hollow, going back to investigate whatever animals were living in the ‘cave’. As documented in the previous post, this turned out to be a pair of very large vulture chicks (and presumably their parents). One of the properties near the Hollow used to be called Buzzard Rock, and I thought I’d seen turkey vultures descending into the trees in that part of the Hollow, but I’d never found a nesting site before. That was pretty cool.
We took an evening trip to Coshocton to have a steak dinner with Mom’s cousins, who live in town. After a very quiet week, all the frogs in the pond finally started singing, so after a memorable day of simple pleasures, I fell asleep to an amphibious chorus.