skull_brown_trout_7-10-14_001   So I am tippy-toeing in two feet of water sliding along the sandy bottom of Meadow Lake, one foot forward at a time, putting the best sneak I have on a half-dozen large, rising trout …and something catches my eye in the sunlight over to the left…something white, something strange, something that didn’t belong there. Laying there as if asleep and resting…the full skeleton of a critter…a very dead and de-fleshed critter…a spread-eagled-in -the-mud critter…with every bone in place….looking prehistoric…looking peaceful…with hollow eye sockets…shimmering amongst the milfoil.skull_brown_trout_7-10-14_002

   So I’m thinking, how did it die? Was it a slow lingering struggle out on the winter ice? Did it fall through and drown? Was it shot? 

   Did it suffer?

   Three hundred yards from shore, did it get caught up in the thirty below zero ice gorge and get moved out by the frigid flows? And will it be there forever…sinking down into the lake bottom, deeper and deeper, perfectly preserved, compacted and fossilized, protected from time?

   What will the college kids look like, a million years from now?…geology majors chipping rock away from the bones…uncovering the distant Montana past, looking down at their new discovery…carefully preserving the bits  and pieces…“my, he’s in beautiful shape!”   

   But I’m silly…there will be no college kids a million years from now to dig him up…no lakes, no rivers, no streams…no world.

   But the bones will be there…somewhere…maybe nowhere. skull_brown_trout_7-10-14_004

   I peer down through the water at the bones. He is in beautiful shape.

   I go back to my rising trout.