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
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.