By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Lundin disagrees, upon closer examination. "It's pretty much Schwing City," he says. "There's just this section over here where it's sort of gnarly. You've done a good job."
He rises, animated. Fire excites him.
Gotta make a fire before we can fish, he says. Ain't no fish if there ain't no fire. And ain't no fire if there ain't no pit to put it in.
"So," he says, "where're we gonna put it? Where're we gonna put it?"
The students are silent in uncertainty, but Primitive Guy is having fun. He is in his element. "How're we gonna make it? What are we doing? How did I get here?"
He says: How about right here where I'm standing, this looks like a good spot for a fire.
Moments later, with the pit dug and Bush's drill-hearth fire stoked, Lundin and Bartholemew head upstream to a livelier section of river to see if they can catch themselves a fish. Unlike a leaf of mint or a root of cattail, a fish will not cooperate in this venture.
To accomplish this, then, Primitive Guy will be using the ultimate in primitive tools--his hands.
Lundin figures, using the width of his fingers, that there is maybe another 45 minutes of sunlight riding up the walls of the canyon, and after that he and Bartholemew will be dealing with dusk.
Carp are the river's primary tenants, but they're tricky to capture because their gill slots have this membrane you can't get your fingers into. Every once in a while, though, Lundin has been able to slow-motion right up to one of these huge finned cows and nab it while it was sleeping.
The more sensible way is to hang out at busy underwater thoroughfares, places the fishes go and keep coming back to no matter how many times you go poking around in there.
This primitive living, he'll repeat so often students tire of it, isn't easy stuff--everything has to be measured in terms of how much energy you're expending to get it. If you're living wild and get a hankering for grasshoppers, for example, it's best to hunt them in high season when you've got a better chance. Spending an hour and a half chasing down a meal of a single grasshopper isn't too smart.
But this, he says--stripping off his shirt and sinking waist-deep into a rocky inlet where he has seen carp collecting--this is perfect hand-fishing area.
He hunkers down and noses along the surface of the water, low enough to reach his outstretched hand into the pocket where the fishes are, focused as a commando. Bartholemew removes her top shirt and climbs into the water in a tank top, thick hiker's legs with tiny ankle tattoos.
Twenty feet away, carp congregate in animated clusters like co-workers having a beer after work, oblivious to the forming hunt. The water is murky and green, rays of light striking the depths in shafts, like cracks in a barn. Lundin is unsure whether the pocket he's reaching into might just lead to an escape crevice deeper inside. He drags a mat of moss into the area, trying to create a sense of fish security, then tells Bartholemew to go upstream and cause general havoc.
"All we can do is hope," he says. After all, everyone has brought enough food for the weekend anyway.
The trick is to wait them out until they're swimming through your fingers. Then, with precision timing, to clamp down hard at the gills, where you can get a firm grip, and to yank one from the water and finish it off before it can slip away. All for a single fish.
Lundin lays flush along the water's surface, his arm way into the hole, head turned to breathe. He is reaching so deep his feet are sticking out of the water.
Minutes pass. He relaxes and lets out a deep breath.
"They're gone," he says. "Which makes me think they have an underground way out of there. We'll have to do it again."
"Okay," Bartholemew says. She has been to India and Nepal. Going back upstream is no big deal. She sloshes waist-high through the water again. "Oh wow," she says, looking in. "There's so many of them."
"I feel a few of 'em in there," Lundin says. "This time I'm not gonna monkey around."
Time goes slowly by. It's 6:45, and the sunlight is on its way out of the canyon, off into the sunset. Lundin's skin is pecked with goose bumps in the cold water, and he starts to shiver. He lets Bartholemew take a turn at the hole, and she casts her arm in for several long, uneventful moments. "Here, fishy, fishy," she says to herself.
She feels a few of them, but can't tell which body parts are sliding through her fingers. She had one around the tail, but it whisked away. Still, they keep coming back.
"We oughta be smarter than fish," Lundin says.
Five minutes to seven--fading light, ripples of water, a rising cacophony of crickets. Lundin is back at the target area, his nose just above the water. He can feel a whopper, but if he goes any deeper, he'll be without air, a necessary element of primitive living. He strains, dips below surface for a bit and then rises up gasping, spitting out water.