#826: Lapse, Part 2

August 7th, 2017

The water still laps in the morning. The gulls still swoop and the geese still make too-low passes that make you wonder about dive-bomb threats to your health and hygiene.

There’s still a city to the south and safe-wrapped suburbia to the north. And if the sun glints at a different angle between a.m. and p., it does so over the same sand and prairie grass.

There’s still a concrete pier shaped like a question mark jutting out into the water.

I feel I’ve gotten to a spot where I’m burning a potentially good story just to notch up one more on my quest to 1,001. I went to Montrose Beach early this morning to talk to the fisherfolk, but I feel I botched it.

Too few were there.

Too few spoke English.

Too many looked peaceful and calm and relaxed at the promise of a new day for me to barge in and blog at them.

A trio of young men on the question-mark pier laughed and joked in a Southeast Asian language I couldn’t place. They had bikes and bait and six or seven rods dangling out into the water, held aloft by metal prongs attached to the concrete, line pulled taut by Lake Michigan waves and the promise of future fish.

I could hear one of the men from dozens of yards away, back on the beach before you even step foot on the curlicue concrete pier. Above waves, birds and rustling wind through the tall grass of the nature preserve, a metallic rat-tat-tat that tings three or four times, then stops. Ting ting ting of metal on metal, then stops.

Closer to the men and the Asian-language jokes and teases, I saw the man was banging a forklike metal prong on one of the metal bars holding up a long-snapped cable fence that runs through the middle of the half-spiral pier.

He banged the fork a few times, then looked at it. Bang bang bang, look look look. He was trying to bend it back into whatever shape it initially held.

I moved on.

Further along the pier’s curve, an aging Chinese-American couple sat in folding chairs, their own early-morning lines held up by their own early-morning fork-prongs.

I stopped to chat with them, and got not much in return. Their English was too stilted. My guilt at bothering them too strong. I botched it. I botched it all.

We all came to the pier to seek, whether fish, stories or, like the early risers back on the beach, photos of migratory lake birds. We all came to seek with very little chance or promise of finding, just a sense of failure or guilt when the sought stayed unfound.

But we did it in a place of beauty, which makes the difference. We all came on our own fools’ errands as an excuse for morning grace along lapping water.

I asked the old man if he caught a lot of fish.

“No,” he said. “I just come here.”

Read part one

Another botched story

And another

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You are currently reading #826: Lapse, Part 2 by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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