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6.16.02 Dogshit Conspiracy

I have to admit I'm suspicious of rural areas. While cities get the rap for violence, rural America whispers incest and cults and secret militias plotting their snares like great dark bramble patches. At the same time, I'm leery of religious zealots -- so many of them turn out to be much more corrupt than us average sinners.

That brings me to Palmyra NY. Maria and I went fishing here yesterday.

Palmyra is one of the old canal towns in an exurban county that still clings to its creepy rural ways. It is also the Mount Sinai of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Joseph Smith had his vision here. The first Book of Mormon was printed here. There are gigantic religious pageants every summer.

Someone told us that the fishing was good in the park surrounding one of the Erie Canal locks. The park is beautiful. The canal spans a basin, so is built high and has spawned flumes and waterfalls and ponds. Maria and I headed for the canal itself because I still had carp on my mind. (Malone told me that the wondrous schooling carp I saw in the shallows of Lake Ontario were spawning and not in the mood for the carp candy I'd made.)

West of the lock, fish were active. We could see them jumping. The relentless rain paused. But as we headed in their direction we became increasingly aware that under foot were piles and piles of dogshit. The farther we went the worse it got. The wall of the canal -- where we intended to stand -- was a museum of turds, old and new, despite days of driving rain. Aren't there ordinances against this??!! Outraged, we turned back and threw our lines in near the lock. Maria's new fishing reel discombobulated and several big pleasure boats came through the lock. We caught nothing.

So we sipped on our coffee and moseyed on down to the other waterways. Maria managed to catch the world smallest bass, a slightly larger fish that jumped off the hook before identification, and a beauty of sunfish. I caught zip -- my worm didn't even get snatched. At 9:30, the rumble of thunder told us our outing was over.

Across the stream at our last stop -- a point where excess water spilled out of the canal and raced toward a water fall -- a man sat fishing. He was on the point we would have gone to if we hadn't been grossed out by all the dog poop.

"Catch anything?" Maria called.

"Oh, about 19 bass," he said with nonchalance. "Big one was about 13 inches."

We stared at him. Where was his dog, I wondered.

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