Lake Report -- Jan. 26-28, 2006

You’re Not as Old as You Thought, if You Were a Basketball Star or if Your Body is Infested With Spirochetes In the early evening of Jan. 26, 2006 I left the gate open for Peter Bogle and proceeded slowly in four-wheel drive, fishtailing on packed snow. At the Froggy Pond four deer bounced across the road, heading toward the Baileys. Skip Lanouette and Jim Cannon theorize that their numbers build on the island whenever the ice gets unsafe for snowmobiles and ATVs. I don’t know about that, but they’re sure right about the ice getting unsafe -- at least for non-jiggermen. The previous week four snowmobilers, proceeding at less than water-skimming speed, had quickly dismounted when they perceived that the ice was starting to sag beneath them. They did so just in time to watch their machines sink into the deepest part of the lake east of Escumbuet Island. Deciding that the 40-foot hole was insufficient, the ATVer who was accompanying them elected to leave his machine on the ice as a marker. It made a good one -- especially when it broke through and floated upside down, buoyed by its large tires. Somehow the police didn’t get word that no one had drowned, and dive teams spent long hours vainly searching for bodies. Five days later other divers attached air bags to the snowmobiles, which were then floated, hitched -- along with the ATV -- to a non-soggy ATV, and towed to the Troups’ beach. Just thinking about all that work made my joints ache. Bogle -- who arrived at camp five minutes after I did -- deals with joint pain from old basketball injuries by taking frequent, four-day Yoga retreats. At these functions he is several decades older than the other participants, none of whom is male, all of whom are beautiful and nubile and wear spandex tights, and with whom he gets paired for exotic stretching exercises. When he returns he always feels better. To ease my aching joints he has tried to teach me the kind of Yoga exercises one can do alone. But it’s always after a scotch or two, and I invariably forget them within 24 hours. Personally, I have always preferred the kind of Yoga taught me by my dear, departed friend Marnie Troup who would merely sit on Sunset Rock with her legs folded under her, nursing a gin and tonic. One week after the Lyme-disease spirochetes had been Doxycyclined out of my body, having resided there for at least two years, the symptoms still persisted. But good things were clearly underway in shoulders, left elbow and right knee. There is an astonishing amount of BS about Lyme disease floating around. Most of it emanates from the internet, which functions like a sewer in reverse. IVs are unnecessary and dangerous because they introduce bacterial and fungal infections and cause clots, in some cases jelling the entire contents of a vein from wrist to shoulder. A month of 200 mg. of Doxy per day nukes 100 percent of the spirochetes 100 percent of the time. I have this from the best bug man in New England who refers to multi-year med prescribers as “Lyme enthusiasts” and to IV prescribers as “Lyme fanatics,” and who doesn’t see new patients but took me because we’re friends. As I watched Westy dash around the living room, shaking his “Goosey,” I wondered why he had never contracted Lyme. We roam the same fields, swamps and woodlands where we get parasitized by the same deer ticks. In warm weather I pick about six ticks off him per day -- a grooming he much enjoys, rolling on his back and stretching the instant he sees me enter the room with a can half full of water. Then I remembered that I smear him monthly with “Frontline,” which spreads through his skin and paralyzes ticks by blocking their neuro-transmitters so that they drink themselves to death -- the happiest of demises for a tick, I suppose. (Once, several days after I spilled the stuff on my wrist, I discovered a dead tick on my shoulder. I’d Frontlined myself.) On the bright, gusty morning of Friday, Jan. 27 we were joined by Cathy and Barry Reed and Meg, the border collie. After coffee, we struck out for Dave Schneider’s cove. Incredibly, the ice was one inch (two auger cranks) thinner than it had been the last time I was on the lake -- Dec. 21, 2005. Despite the abominable jiggering conditions, we had a steady pick of fat perch. After perhaps a dozen we moved to the narrows, where Cathy iced an 18-inch largemouth and I a pickerel of about 20 inches which somehow got crosswise at the bottom of the hole, thus requiring me to lip it with my ungloved thumb and forefinger -- an undertaking I do not recommend. Barry caught a big white perch, very unusual in winter. As we approached the traditional dead time of mid-day the jiggering inexplicably picked up. We had no “glory holes,” but several produced four or five semi-cows. One of Barry’s regurgitated a juvenile crappie. Meanwhile, Westy and Meg were also enjoying fine sport. The game they have invented and passionately pursued since puppyhood consists of Meg curling her upper lip in a perpetual sneer and Westy dancing around her and, about every sixth revolution, punching her with his nose. At the punch she lunges and snaps, never making contact but always eliciting a scream from Westy. If Westy is temporarily distracted from the game, Meg will trot over to him and reinitiate it. With the five-gallon bucket three-quarters full we returned for lunch, Barry and I trudging painfully through the snow, cursing, slipping on ice, tripping on deadfalls and rotating dogs. With the heavy clothes and boots it’s always tough going on snowy island paths. But never before had young Reed complained about being stiff in all the wrong places. Aberrant behavior indeed. We dragged ourselves into camp, shucked our sweaty duds, and drained cold beers. Presently Barry phoned his doctor to see if he had flunked his Lyme test -- which would mean that he did NOT have the disease and, therefore, really was old and shot. The results wouldn’t be in until Monday. The late-afternoon bite barely happened, but we had more than enough perch for a lavish fish fry. We finished filleting five minutes before Skip and Cindy Lanouette arrived. In the middle of the living room Chutney subbed for the exhausted Meg in the never-ending game of Spin, Punch, Snap, and Scream. Donna arrived at 8:00, minutes before Fitz Sturgill. He had just flushed partying ATVers who had been sitting around a fire near the tennis court. Earlier, Skip had flushed them from the bridge, where they had been beautifying island trees by detaching no-trespassing signs. It seemed like only last summer that Fitz had been a pre-schooler, telling us about the smallmouth he had hoisted up Sunset Rock. “HOW big was it, Fitzy?” Tom Troup had sternly inquired. The answer, now part of sacred island lore, was quoted by TT until he died: “Frankly Tom, it was humongous.” Suddenly Fitz was a six-foot, one-inch, 26-year-old jiggerman/scientist -- the first such of any size or age. Although he has explained it to us at least a dozen times, we can never remember what research he does at Harvard Medical School. So this time I hauled out my laptop from under E.V. French’s green leather chair and instructed him to explain it yet again, slowly. Herewith, his verbatim response -- destined also to be part of sacred island lore: “We study the protrusions on the branches of neurons and how they communicate and integrate many incoming signals into an output that makes sense. In order to study these protrusions we label the neurons fluorescently and then perturb the genes that we predict to be involved in the regulations of these protrusions.” “Is it really that simple?” I demanded. “Why didn’t you just say that before?” In the morning the jiggering party was reduced to Fitz, me, and Westy. The clouds and warm temperature promised a banner day, so of course we did poorly. Pickerel, which we don’t want and which cut off our jiggers, came in profusion, but the perch were sparse and small. Although this was a Saturday, for the second day in a row no tiltman profaned Big Island Pond. I have now embraced Bogle’s theory that, since my lake reports have been circulating on the internet like viral infections, tiltmen everywhere have taken umbrage at what they somehow perceive as unkind references to their behavior (such as squatting in outhouse-like bobhouses) and to their equipment (such as their white-metal, duck-billed, K-Mart spuds and the orange butt warmers they pin to their backsides and flounce around with) and that, therefore, they are pouting -- by which I do not mean hornpout fishing. We half-salvaged the morning in shallow water, much closer to the bridge than I normally jigger, then quit at 1:15. After lunch Fitz helped me fill the truck with the last of the black birch that had been shading the garden. He left with about 25 perch, including many marginals. As I was turning off the water Cindy phoned to tell me that early that morning Skip had followed the spoor of the partying, fire-building, sign-detaching ATVers hither and yon around the island (observing where they had ripped down other signs) and then out across the slushy ice to a seasonal mainland camp on Mill Shore Road. Wisely, he had not pursued them the previous evening because he would have missed an epic fish fry and contaminated the crime scene with his own tracks. Special thanks to Scott Wood of the Hampstead Police Department for his speedy bust and for fining each of the five ATVer $100 on the spot, to Skip for his fine detective work, and to Cindy (known locally as “the hanging judge”) for her impassioned pleas for non-leniency. Two days later Barry got the same happy news I had received in December -- that he is not old and decrepit after all but merely seething with spirochetes. In addition to the month-long regimen of Doxycycline which his doctor prescribed, I have recommended Marnie Troup’s Yoga. I didn’t even ask Peter Bogle if Barry could accompany him on one of his Yoga retreats because I knew the answer would be no. In the stretching exercises they surely would be paired together. - 30 -