Dateline: A picnic table, Lake Jordan Marina Dock
I saw a miracle today.
Me and Precious.
It was at the launch of the Bassmaster postseason.
Everyone was looking down.
We looked up.
The dock was packed with people watching the first day launch of the Bassmaster postseason …12 boats … 12 Elite pros battling for the coveted Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
All eyes were cast downward as the boats idled by a foot or so below the sneakered feet.
KVD idles by … shouts, claps, thumbs-up.
Precious is oblivious to it.
Skeet Reese is next … the same go get 'em symphony rings out.
Precious stands alone at the end of the dock paying no never mind to any of it.
I walk down and stand next to her. We haven't been introduced. She looks back at me; I get the upside down "V" checkout. She stares at my feet, up to the "me" part of me, then back down to my feet.
As Kelly Jordan idles by, she goes back to watching something no one else is looking at.
And as I follow her gaze, I see the miracle.
The earth coming alive in orange, yellow and red.
The universe is giving us another chance.
Another shot at life its own self.
Another shot to be us.
Another shot to do stuff.
Another shot to succeed.
Between blue water and golden sky, 12 men chase their dreams.
And the miracle above lights their way.
I hope they saw it.
Thanks to a poodle on the dock named Precious. A good dog is a good dog, and a good tournament is a good tournament.
I came to watch the Angler of the Year launch and ended up following the gaze of a dog. And I'm glad I did.
For it was Precious who showed me the miracle this morning that was the Alabama Sky.
Good Morning Alabama
The best dark is right before the light.
It's where the mystery of the day lurks, where new is born, where possible begins:
A fitting time and space for the beginning of the Angler of the Year race.
In the reeds, frogs yawn. Out by the point, you can hear wings slap the water as nature stretches.
Pontoon boats rock silently while their neighbors with sails clang to announce each wave.
Across the bay, a porch light comes on, shadows walk back and forth between the nightlights and the Elites. Doors open, windows close, coffee steams, toilets flush.
Red lights, green lights, 'round the weeds and head your way. You feel the underwater hum of the horsepower under wraps before you hear it.
Thump, as rope hits wood deck. Scrape, scrape, scrape, as it is wound around metal cleat.
You smell gasoline, wet vinyl seats, biscuits, SPF 45, musty rain suits, wet deck carpet, excitement.
In the post-season, there is no tomorrow, even if there is a tomorrow on the schedule. When you are playing for all the marbles, it is what it is — NEVER is what it REALLY is.
Immortality is never given … it's taken. You have to grab it, wrestle it, tie it up and stuff it in the livewell, locked and with an anchor sitting on top of the door.
And then, it, is you. Forever.
Someone will win this thing, 11 will not.
Someone will hoist a trophy, 11 will not.
Some will get a shot to win it again, most will not.
Once in a lifetime can take a lifetime to reach. Miss it, and …
As I sit on the dock and write this, I can see and hear 12 of the best of the best race back and forth across Lake Jordan, allegedly chasing Bass.
In fact, they chase themselves, and what lies inside.
For they know that under a now bright white Alabama Sky, once in a lifetime started today.
"This is your time
This is your day
You've got it all
Don't blow it away"
Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.