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Mark Gunderman

Mark Gunderman

It was more than likely just the dissipating jet engine exhaust that stretched in a billowy line linking two amazing clouds on the eastern horizon. But I chose to believe that a connection had somehow formed between the clouds, and down to me on the surface of the water.

I normally head east when heading out for some early morning fishing. When I round the peninsula that forms Mermaid Bay, I immediately look up toward the sky over the shallow bay at Wissota Marina, as that’s where the sunrise will greet me.

On this particular morning, the cloud on the left was illuminated from behind by the rays of the morning sun, which extended in well-defined beams over the top of the cloud, as if they were just steering around it. A golden glow emanated from the cloud’s edges. The early light brightened that long, straight line that extended to the cloud on the right, and it was as if the cloud holding back the sunrise was sharing some of the light and with its partner through that link.

This is the moment on a fishing morning that I wish my wife, Judi, were along. She is the greater connoisseur of sunrises and sunsets and never fails to marvel over their beauty. I would venture to guess that she has the largest collection of Lake Wissota sunset pictures stored on her iPad, as she frequently heads outside at dusk and captures the scene from the top of the hill, or heads down the steep slope to the shore.

The orange glows that mark the most stunning sunsets often extend far into the sky when helped by fluffy clouds whose undersides reflect the glow down to appreciative eyes as the sun sinks below the horizon. The red sky appears much less frequently at sunrise. I don’t know if there is anything to the old adage that a red sky at morning warns of stormy weather to come.

Judi asked me recently if I preferred sunrises or sunsets. Offering no opinion on the comparable aesthetics, I said I prefer sunrises, which usher in a whole new day ahead of me, instead of the sunsets, which signal the end of the day.

While Judi loves these scenes more, I do not forget to look up to find more wonders of Wissota to appreciate. In that spirit, Judi convinced me to launch the boat at night last Saturday.

She knows I don’t care for night boating, and that is one way in which we differ. Judi prefers a boat ride at night, and finds great beauty in the scenery, especially on the night of a full moon. But the absence of moonlight was a feature of our latest nighttime launch. The Perseid Meteor Showers were due to come in full force that night, and in numbers greater than usual. The extra darkness from the lack of a moon, a clear sky and a Saturday night with no need to rest up for work made for the perfect time for a night on the water.

I must admit, it was beautiful with the calm water and silhouettes of the trees along the shore making for a peaceful scene. But the real show was up, where the stars shone more brightly than usual on the dark night. The shooting stars did not seem as frequent as advertised, but as long as we kept our gazes up, we would see the sudden, short-lived streaks of light, or the single points of light moving quickly, but leaving no tail before fading as quickly as they appeared. And in between the pronouncements from each of us that we had just seen one, or the few times when we saw one together, we talked, which was the most special part of the night.

As I have often said, when you head out onto the waters of Lake Wissota, you leave your problems back on shore. So we talked for a couple of hours without once bringing up chores that needed to be done, where we were going to get the money to take care of this or that, or other such worrisome minutiae that too often dominates the conversations of long-married couples.

As pleasant as it was, we eventually headed in. I wanted to get a little bit of sleep. As long as I had the boat uncovered and ready to go, I might as well head out for some fishing in the morning. And there would be another Wissota sunrise to see.

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