Tag Archives: ken gortowski

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A Walk in the River

A walk in the river is all I expected. After a few weeks of casting practice in sterile creeks I gave up and hit the Fox River. Levels were abnormally low for spring, perfect wading conditions instead of nearing flood stage.

As I stepped into the river I parted a massive school of bait fish. This told me where to cast when I got around to it. On the opposite side of the river the gravel bars on the upstream side of the islands glowed white. Can’t recall ever seeing that before.

With the winter we had I hear a massive amount of salt was dumped on roads. Along the river it eventually has to wind up in the river. Up close, it sure looked like salt crust. And yes, the next two shots are in color.

I’m used to seeing water lines on rocks with the rock beneath the line a lighter color from being washed by the river. But I’ve never seen this.

If it is salt deposits, I wonder if it will have any affect on the fish. Two fish caught and three fish missed later, I would have to say no so far. They were all hanging around the rocks along with a bunch of jumping carp. Where there’s carp there’s smallies. Maybe they like salt.

Paired up geese were everywhere. The smart ones were already nesting on the islands. Smart move. Fewer ground dwelling predators.

The ones nesting on shore are already regretting that decision.

A mini waterfall was explored. No matter how dry it gets, this always has flowing water. I’ve known of it for 15 years now. I have never looked for it’s source.

The walk was made that much more brutal by the constant rush of wind. I heard later it was over 20 mph with gusts up to 40.

But it’s not so bad inside a duck blind, blocking the wind and a long bench to stretch a back on.

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McDonald’s, I don’t get it

McDonald’s, I don’t get it. And yet they recently reported a $6.9 BILLION profit for the last quarter. That’s profit. I didn’t hear how much was brought in for the quarter, just the profit. Total income for the quarter has to be enormous, you would think.

I’m sorry, I bet the picture at the top gave you the impression this was going to be about fishing. That is a nice fish. A first week of April smallie to be exact based on the lack of leaves on the trees in the background. Fox River at North Aurora to be specific based on the bridge.

Unless you’re one of those anglers that must make a McDonald’s stop while out and about, then I guess this has to do with fishing, but not really.

I’m not much of a fast food person, never have been. I’ve done my share, but I’d just as soon not bother. I do have a penchant for a bacon cheese burger, large fries and chocolate shake from Portillo’s when the occasion arises, but that’s about it.

Twenty years ago the death knell came for McDonald’s when between jobs, I stopped and grabbed something quick to eat. A major mistake. Within the hour I was in the throes of food poisoning. Nothing like seeing anything McDonald’s coming out where it just went down. That pretty much killed my desire for anything McDonald’s.

Because of an impending move, the wife and I have been busy the last couple of days cleaning and painting the new place. On the way home the wife decided to go the easy route to dinner and stopped at McDonald’s. She brought me a bacon double cheeseburger and some fries, figuring it was a safe bet.

Well, safe it wasn’t. The first negative comment came from my mother-in-law. She would not be considered to have a discerning palate, so the comment was a bit of a surprise.

“The fries are always too salty.”

She immediately set them aside.

And they were. And they were also far too skinny for my liking and to top it all off, they tasted like shit. Then I started in on the bacon double cheeseburger. I think my long drawn out culinary review went something like this…

“This tastes like shit too.”

And it pretty much did. The flavor kind of resembled beef, but not quite. The bacon had bacon flavor, but I could see the cheese and that was about it.

I was hungry so I kept eating it and had a running commentary going on the $6.9 BILLION profit McDonald’s just made and what that said about the total lack of taste the average human being must have.

How do people eat this shit and, after the first time, why the hell do they go back?

Told the wife not to bother getting me anything the next time she makes a quick stop.

I’d rather dig through the kitty litter box.

I finished this wonderful meal at 5:50 PM. As I type this it’s 6:35 PM.

Food poisoning always strikes within the first hour.

So far no rumbly’s in the tumbly.

But then, I got another 14 minutes to go.

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A Walk Down to the River

It was starting to snow and 14 inches were being called for within the next 36 hours, I thought now would be a good time to take a walk down to the river.

On the other side of the river is a huge field ringed with trees. There are no homes in that stretch. Three deer could be seen in the field. They looked like they were playing in the snow. They would run, then stop. Then run again. Whenever they would stop they would look across the river at me. I had to be a good 150 yards away, but they were still cautious of this lone figure wandering down the hill toward them. Then they would go back to playing.

The river was pretty empty. A few geese were in the open water and I counted a half dozen blue herons spread out and hunkered down on the edge of the ice. Hunting I assume.

I got to the edge of the bluff, still a good 30 feet above the river and started wandering down the thin tree line. In one of the tallest trees that hangs out over the river were a couple of adult eagles. Of course I had to see how close I could get to them.

One didn’t like that and took off. The other didn’t seem to mind so much.

Debbie Granat and her daughter pulled up on the side of the road and I wandered over to talk. Her husband Larry started the Facebook page The Kendall County Bird Page and I rely on him for all things eagles in this stretch of the river. One of these days I’ll have a better camera and I can quit asking him for eagle images. Or, I’ll never tell him I got a better camera, keep borrowing eagle images and give him the publicity he deserves.

That sounds better.

After they left I turned around and the skittish eagle was back. I tried stalking up to them again, and again the skittish one took off. Decided to leave them alone and head downstream.

Off on the island was another eagle. In that short period of time, more geese were coming down to the river and a couple of hundred of them were circling the area.

I live about 80 feet away from a pretty heavily wooded ravine. I walked along the top of the bluff, heading for the mouth of the ravine. The tracks of deer, squirrels and what I assume are either coyote or fox were all using the ravine like a highway. I tracked them to the top of the bluff overlooking the ravine.

On a good day wandering down the steep slope of the bluff is a no brainer. Conditions did not make this a good day. All I could imagine was gravity taking over and suddenly finding myself in a heap at the bottom. The tracks being seen were all old, I convinced myself. No point wandering down there.

A juvenile bald eagle drifted overhead and landed in a tree a hundred feet away. This one was on to me, it took off long before I could get any closer.

In that short time, hundreds more geese had arrived. The honking was starting to echo down the river valley. The only ducks I can recognize from a distance are mallards, but I can see that others are different even if I can’t identify them. I saw a couple of other different types of ducks mixed in with all the other waterfowl.

The other day while out shoveling snow at sunset I stopped counting the geese flying overhead when I got to 500. Today, the geese weren’t coming in from north or south. The bulk of them were coming straight down the river out of the west.

This is what I’m going to miss when I move at the end of the month, that ability to wander down a hill and see such a variety of wildlife. Granted, I’ll still be living two blocks from the river, but it’s slightly more urban. There will still be plenty of geese and ducks around, but for the deer and coyote and the bulk of the eagles I’ll have to walk a good half mile downstream.

Maybe a little less.

I’ll try to think of that as a motivating factor, hiking that extra half mile.

I could use the exercise.

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It’s 7 PM and I just came in from wandering around while smoking a cheap cigar. It has to be about 30 degrees out there, no wind, the snow is falling straight down and the neighborhood is dead quiet.

Down on the river a few geese were honking and at the mouth of the ravine, coyotes were howling.

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Good Riddance 2013

After a nearly disastrous start to the year, the wife and I were both ready to say good riddance 2013 by midnight last night.

March 1st I was finally hired for a full time job after a little over three years of scrounging for work. It’s going to take years to crawl out of the financial hole that was created, but there was now potential for improvement.

Then the wife, who was in the final stages of recovering from rotator cuff surgery, was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis and had to quit working. She’s a tough lady and though it’s hurt her ability to work, she does her best to keep going, sometimes to a fault. There are those moments where she just collapses into bed in pain.

Then in November she had a mild heart attack.

Boy, did that piss her off.

She still refuses to let these things get the better of her and she pushes and pushes. One of these days that will either kill her or cripple her, but that’s the way she wants it.

I’m not going to argue with her, won’t do any good.

So, we’ll see what 2014 brings.

We’ll be moving soon, something smaller and cheaper. That should help a bit. Nice part for me, besides being cheaper, I’ll still be less than a two minute walk to the Fox River.

One must have priorities, even if they are self-serving.

My goals are simple this year.

I hope to enjoy all of these, every day.

And to catch more of these out of smaller and smaller creeks.

I told you my goals are simple.

At the top of this post is one of my favorite images, Leap Into the Void by Yves Klein.

Sometimes, what else can you do.

Of course, there will always be music playing somewhere in the back of my head while I watch those sunsets and fish those creeks.

There always is.

If you’re going to Leap Into the Void, you may as well Jump Into the Fire.

Really, sometimes, what else can you do.