It wasn’t until my leg was fully wedged under the running tap in the Perry Monument men’s room Sunday night that I started concocting explanations that would sell my yoga to the next person who walked through the door.
I figured the less said, the better, but “cramp” seemed only to invite more questions, and wasn’t true anyway (although it would have been, had I stayed in that one-legged position much longer).
The night air already had pleasantly turned, so I couldn’t suggest I was cooling myself.
It wasn’t even the beach side of Presque Isle State Park, so I couldn’t suggest I was sandy.
I settled on the truth, which was that my legs from toes to knees were rank with extract of mouldering vegetation and a stew of dead fish after taking out a canoe on the east side of Misery Bay.
No one did walk into the restroom. But then, I’d not have had to explain at all if someone had. The odor was doing all the talking.
My wife and I knew when we put in at the easternmost Misery Bay parking lot near Fry’s Landing that we’d also take out there, and that it might be a bit malodorous. The natural wind and water currents that wash Presque Isle Bay deposit anything that floats on that side of Misery Bay. On Sunday, fish heads and bodies lined the shore, as did upended decaying weeds. A massive and toothy pike that had been decapitated got our attention in particular.
But I was thinking that things would be, you know, dirty-sock smelly later in the day, not revolting to the point of nausea. Which it was. But we didn’t know that about 3 p.m., when we put in for a nearly 6-hour paddle around Misery Bay and Horseshoe Pond.
Linda caught a bucket’s worth of panfish, including the World’s Smallest Bluegill. We also made friends with a cecropia moth that was struggling to stay off the water’s surface and was in danger of being drowned or eaten. It was such a beautiful creature, and so unusually large for a moth, that saving it seemed a valiant thing to do. The moth liked the idea and hung with us for the full tour, eventually taking up residence inside a sandal I’d kicked off. We left it on a trailside bush when we took out at 9:15. The moth, not the sandal, though that probably would have been a better choice.
The Stink Hole, a much loved fishing site, is far closer to the head of Presque Isle Bay than Misery Bay, but we’ve called this area the Stinkhole for years. And it earned its reputation anew.
A dozen trips between the canoe and car left me smelling like I’d been tramping out a good vintage of sardines. There was, for lack of a better word, “stuff” trapped between my sandal and the sole of my foot that should not have been there. And muck was glued to the bottom of the canoe, which was strapped to the car-top carrier.
Which is how I came to have my feet in the sink. And why I hosed off the canoe the moment it came off the carrier. Why Linda had a load of laundry in moments later, just before I hit the shower.
The smell’s gone from our possessions. But I’ve gotten a snootful today at every turn, at places I know that odor doesn’t and thankfully can’t exist. Unless someone else in this building also went paddling last night.