Monday, June 30, 2008

Cutting Bait


The Herring Net,
Winslow Homer,
The Art Institute of Chicago.


Before launching into the next Lillie St. Claire adventure ( provisional title A Treachery of Stones) have been immersing myself in collections of folklore/legends and myth and the fathomless fears and dark visions of the human psyche.

Trawling through Mysterious Canada: Strange Sights, Extraordinary Events and Peculiar Places by John Robert Colombo, am astonished to discover in passing that nearly every frigging body of water of any size or interesting aspect in the country has a lake monster legend attached to it. They lurk everywhere in the silent waters.

One tends to think the myth unique to Lock Ness or Okanogan Lake, but that's not so -- and justifies the placement of a fantasy creature in any convenient setting.

My closest encounter with a somewhat startling water denizen amounted to no more than the sight of an oversized carp in the little cove in front of our boathouse. To me, carp were flitting golden glimpses in elegant crystal ponds with water lillies, not this big, dull, rotund thing heeling out of the murky water and weedy storm rack of the great river.

Had I not heard that such a porcine piscine frequented a dock further down the shore, I wonder what I might have thought. If it had not been a bright sunny day without river mist or a lowering sky.

If I had been told that something strange and unnatural sometimes travelled the channel between the rocky beach and the islands...
EDIT: Sandra Cormier ( Chumplet) celebrates the July 1 release of her latest romantic suspense novel, Bad Ice, with a cool contest! Skate over and win a free book!


39 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Of such experiences strange stories are told. I told a story for years of seeing a walking catfish at the pound behind my house. I saw it three times but no one ever believed me. It was always on the bank and flipped in the water just as I arrived, and it was no snake. To this day I don't know what it was.

BTW, loved "Corpse Candles." I'll be posting something about it in the next day or two.

Bernita said...

I believe you, Charles.
Have seen just enough natural anomalies that I know it's possible.
Thank you.
~beams~

BernardL said...

Carp can get real big. They've caught catfish in Indiana and Alabama over a hundred pounds, and one in Thailand over six hundred pounds. Those are some ugly looking monsters to run into underwater. :)

Chumplet said...

That reminds me of the story Big Fish, with the mysterious catfish that took the main character's wedding ring. The movie made me laugh and cry.

When I visited my dad in Penticton, my eyes constantly scanned Lake Okanagan just in case I caught a glimpse of Ogopogo.

Funny, I was just mentioning a giant squid over at Bench Press.

Tomorrow is Canada Day and the e-release of Bad Ice. Good day for a contest, do you think?

StarvingWriteNow said...

After having a significant hose in my car engine chewed open by one of those little DARLINGS, I have a serious dislike for porcupines. (grr!)

Bernita said...

This one was probably half Indiana size, Bernard. But it certainly was ugly.

And sweet Cindy is looking for a sea monster too, Sandra. "Uncle Rick" retired Monday as well.
Yep. Why not?

They tend to chew on anything w/salt residue as well, Beth.

laughingwolf said...

oh yes, neat critters...some worthy of a tale, or two ;)

in shag harbor, not too far from here, we have the only official, government recorded, ufo sighting, the thing disappeared into the water, never to be seen again

Lana Gramlich said...

I think every body of water has its own monster legend. Every single one. People are easily bored, I guess.
I once caught a duck while fishing...that was considerably less fun than it looked...

Bernita said...

1967, Laughingwolf.

Bernita said...

I think it would be reasonably traumatic, Lana.

Sarah Hina said...

This post reminds me of Seuss's McElligot's Pool. You just never know what you might find...

Robyn said...

Any fairly wild forest has a Sasquatch or Jersey Devil-type thing, too. My son is addicted to a History Channel series called Monster Quest. They use modern scientific methods to find rocs, thunderbirds, yetis and the like but haven't found one yet.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I onetime saw a cat fish with a head twice as big as mine in a river in Wichita, KS. And when I was in college learning to be a teacher, one of my profs told me about a kid who went missing from her classroom. This was down South. And everyone was agreed a catfish got 'im.


Underwater critters freak me out.

Travis Erwin said...

I prefer to let my line hook and sinker do the underwater exploration while I bask above the waterline and daydream about catching a wall hanger.

Bernita said...

Usually one merely finds plastic bottles and pieces of drift, Sarah.

Robyn, I think the whole cryptozoology thing is fascinating. And how can people know if they don't go look?

And there are some nasty ones out there, SS.

I prefer to eat what I catch, Travis; or rather, only catch what I can eat. The trophy gene passed me by.

raine said...

I suppose it's very human to make fish stories out of fish stories (we have a lake monster too--one's who's obviously immune to pollution).
But it would be absurd to think we know everything that lurks beneath the water. Love a bit of mystery in life.

SzélsőFa said...

I guess it must be the general fear of the uncertain...
But it truly comes up with the most exciting stories :)

Bernita said...

After reading this book, Raine, I'm nor surprised you have a lake monster. I never realized there were so many.
Be dull if everything were explained, catalogued and tabulated, wouldn't it?

The lure of the unknown, Szelsofa.

cindy said...

i, too, have been researching on water creatures of myth and folklore. absolutely fascinating! i LOVE the title to the next novel, btw, b!

Gabriele C. said...

I'm really surprised the Oderteich reservoir has no resident aquamrine monster. It surely looks the part, with that black water from the moors.

Maybe the lack of legend is due to the fact it is an artificial lake, albeit dating back to the 17th century.

It does have ordinary fish, though.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cindy.
Have noticed some interesting creatures in Celtic lore, and not all of them the Loralie type.

Gabriele, seems to postively beg for one. Some accounts may only be locally known, unless a folklorist writes them up.

laughingwolf said...

thx bernita, 30 years before i got here, but love to read of such

Bernita said...

That event is mentioned in the book, Lw.

Scott from Oregon said...

On these lake tales, I would prefer to know the story behind who made up the myth and who wrote it down.

Was it the town reporter, copying feverishly the information provided by the town tippler?

Bernita said...

Scott, more often than not, the witnesses are likely to be rather sober and respectable people.

laughingwolf said...

still trying to find it locally, but i may have to hit amazon, soon

Steve Malley said...

The Maori have a water-dragon called a Taniwha, closely related to the Hawaiian word for a hammerhead shark.

Oh, and that 'wh' is pronounced 'f'. Cheers.

ChrisEldin said...

myth unique to Lock Ness or Okanogan Lake

How can I swear I'm not copying you!!!! I will draw blood for you....I will not give up chocolate to prove my innocence. But just about anything else!

(I heard a segment on NPR recently about the ocean census, so that was the lead-in)

:-0)

Bernita said...

The story is given only half a page in the Colombo book, Lw.

Seems every country has 'em, Steve.

We must be on the same "wave" length, Chris! Cindy was talking about them too.

writtenwyrdd said...

I think deep water is like the dark: automatically harboring the mysterious or scary.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

When in Scotland, we had dinner in a restaurant on the shores of Loch Ness. It was greatly atmospheric and evocative. I could definitely imagine a creature rising from its depths to spook the local inhabitants.

Jaye Wells said...

This is why I avoid bodies of water where I can't see the bottom.

Whirlochre said...

I love legendary beast stories, and though I've never seen Nessie or even the Stow-On-The-Wold Bumblebee of Doom, I did once say the night at a friend's house in the company of a spectral horse. I'd hoped to wake in the middle of the night to find it cantering through the bedroom or whinneying in my ear, but, sadly, the only trace of it I experienced was a musty horsey smell emanating from a damp patch in the hallway.

Spooky — and ever so slightly pukey.

Bernita said...

I think you are right, Written.

Nessie's been doing that allegedly since the 7th century, Suzanne.

There's enough real stuff under the water to make me uneasy, Jaye. I'd prefer to see it coming.

Converted stables/coach houses can be like that, Whirl.

laughingwolf said...

happy c-day, bernita :)

Bernita said...

And Happy Canadoody Day to you, Laughingwolf.

Barbara Martin said...

Oh, yes, the carp in the Great Lakes can be huge!! They don't live in a pond where food is regulated. I stayed one summer with my brother in Pt. Roberts, WA and was asked to feed his goldfish while he and his wife went off on a cruise. Since the fish seemed hungry all the time, I sprinkled food twice a day, not the once and only a little as I was told. While they grew I thought I was doing a great job in feeding them, until my brother returned. He told me had I kept feeding them like that he would need a new tank.

laughingwolf said...

you are right, barbara, i've caught huge carp in both erie and ontario, also 'drum' or 'sheephead'

too bony for my taste, though

Bernita said...

Barbara, this one must have been close to 40 pounds.

One must eat carefully, Laughingwolf.