Once in a Sturgeon Moon

Once in a Sturgeon Moon

Back in my scuba diving days, the majority of my dives were river drifts in the Niagara River. The water was a welcome relief on a hot August day, even while wearing a wet suit.

A shore dive would mean parking one vehicle at the exit point, followed by a drive upriver for the start of the dive. Holding a line connected to our dive float and flag, we would descend to the river bottom, from thirteen to thirty-five feet below, depending on the section of the river. Knowing the approximate time of the drift, we would surface and kick towards shore for our exit. Sometimes that could mean a strong, hard kick into shore because the current was faster that day or had pushed us out further than expected.

I started carrying a quarter in my wet suit after one dive that resulted in overshooting our exit point and landing on an island (connected by a bridge). I walked into a bar at a marina, borrowed a quarter to call for a ride (pre-cellphone days), and walked back out to my dive buddy, my wet suit garnering looks and comments from the bar patrons. The woman who gave me the quarter also bought shots to share with me.

We also would dive from a boat on the river, which was much easier. A back-roll off the side of the boat, and we were in the water. Once on the bottom, we would be connected with a ten foot long buddy line. The current was our friend, carrying us downriver as we watched the bottom for lost boat anchors and antique bottles. A tug on the line usually meant the other diver had grabbed on to a rock on the bottom as he pulled an anchor or bottle from under a rock or from the silt. Over the years, I acquired propellers, hundreds of bottles, and dozens of anchors, as well as a few outboard motors that I sold to an outboard engine repair shop. For years, I had a recovered three-hundred pound anchor on my lawn.

Of course, I never caught any fish while diving, but I saw quite a few, from bass to catfish to muskellunge. One fish that stands out in my memory was a complete surprise. As we drifted along the bottom with fairly good visibility, a shadow appeared on my right. I was confused at first, because I thought it was my dive buddy (whose name also happened to be Ken), but the buddy line was on my left, with my buddy firmly attached. And then it came to within five feet of me, staying by my side for thirty seconds. It was a six-foot long sturgeon. Back on the boat, it was all we could talk about.

hot, still days
no relief at night
sturgeon moon

This haibun is my response to Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #150: Sturgeon Moon.
The first full moon of August is called the Sturgeon Moon, Grain Moon, Barley Moon or Red Moon.

23 thoughts on “Once in a Sturgeon Moon

  1. Never tried SCUBA. A little snorkeling here & there, but…Thanks for remembering so clearly and for reecording so engagingly, Ken.

    And that close…Haibunilicious.

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  2. You held my full attention with your haibun. Your underwater lifestyle brought you side by side with the prehistoric monarch of the rivers (and lakes.) I cannot imagine what a thrill that must have been. They are trying to save sturgeon now, as humans have done their best to make them extinct.

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  3. They are such powerful fish… my son has two a ‘mere’ three feet long, in his pond, who, with one swipe of the tail can soak observers at the pond side. Otherwise very gentle though and they eat from his hand.

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  4. Surprise!
    I boogey boarded as a teen off Asilomar state beach. A form shot the wave between Skip and me- we thought Shark and paddled like hell. Turns out it was a sea lion

    The year after i left for college, a surfer was taken by an estimated 18′ great white, same beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Xenia. 🙂 Gentle – yes, consolation for the startling appearance.
      The river could reach 70ºF, so even though we wore wet suits, we could wear cloth garden gloves. Once, a Muskie (Muskellunge) appeared 3 feet in front of me. I raised my hand up to point it out to my dive buddy, who promptly pulled my arm down. On the surface he said I was lucky the big fish (almost 4 feet long) didn’t think I was offering bait. Yes – very, very sharp teeth!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: #Haikai Challenge #151 (8/9/20): first (autumn) storm (hatsu arashi) / Darkness (Yami) #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga – Frank J. Tassone

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