The gloriously long summer afternoons never go quietly into the night; rather they fight as a matador in battle with an angry bull. The changing of the seasons is the natural rhythm of the planet and has been pondered by the earliest civilizations in an attempt to interpret our surroundings. The summer solstice occurs on June 21st, it is the day which has the most hours, minutes and precious seconds of daylight of the year. Ancient religious ceremonies celebrating this event were held throughout the world in locations from Stonehenge to Machu Picchu, they all knew that the big orange ball in the sky was the reason for life flourishing on this third rock from the sun. I lived and worked alongside the Maya of the Yucatan peninsula in the 1980’s and was amazed at the importance of the sun god reflected in the hieroglyphs and ruined temples which stood quietly and stoically in the thick jungle. The Egyptians had Ra as the supreme god; he was represented by the sun and was the creator of life.
I have always had a love affair with the golden days of summer, from the torrential afternoon thunder storms to the blistering hot and humid midday sun. My air conditioner in my truck quit working about five years ago and it didn’t really affect me as I always preferred an open window with the warm summer breeze caressing my face. In the hottest part of this wonderful season I choose to spend my time away from work doing things like; hiking, riding on the levee, kayaking, target practice at the range and backpacking through the woods of south Louisiana. I sure sweat like a hog, but I believe that perspiration is a way to get rid of extra salt which we consume excessively in this fast food and canned goods society. Maybe the creature comforts we have come to rely on such as air conditioning has led us to retain all that salt causing high blood pressure and kidney problems which are so prevalent in this country.
The true love of old Ernest Hemingway’s life was fishing for Blue Marlin in the waters off of Cuba on his tricked out wooden boat which he named ,”Pilar”. Ernest wrote passionately about his fascination of the open water and the challenges which Mother Nature can exact on one at sea. I share his desire to harvest my supper from the depths of the ocean and the murky waters of the Atchafalaya Basin; it is only on rare occasions that I am without my trusty fly pole, which I call Havana, on the back seat of my truck. I have fished the coast of this sportsman’s paradise from Hackberry to Grand Isle catching too many species to name on one page; we only keep our limit and take pictures of the rest. I have fished for pan fish in fresh water lakes and bayous in Louisiana from Lake Martin up to Lake Darbone way up in Farmerville, Louisiana. The pleasure of cooking fresh caught fish out in the Atchafalaya Basin, along the Gulf of Mexico or in the back yard is a summer treat of culinary perfection.
I exercise by walking five miles a day on the streets by my house or on the levee of Henderson and I am amazed at the lack of children on bicycles or playing ball in the yard. As a child the kids in my neighborhood spent the whole day from breakfast to nightfall out in the woods or in the park playing Tarzan, Cowboys and Indians or having water balloon fights. We did just fine without cell phones, I pods and a game boy, the television was not blaring all day long and we drank from the water hose outside.
I hope that this summer is a Hemingway experience for you also, go out and catch a fish or explore some of the historic attractions of this awesome state of Louisiana. Go out and enjoy the outdoors and soak up the beauty of the green plants and colorful flowers which is so abundant in the summer. Love everybody and have fun, it is a short life!
A.k.a. Cajun Karl