Kickass, the doorstop dog, relates the keeper’s trout lily betrayal with as much accuracy as is possible from his accounts. It has to do with his abject failure to make decisions appropriate for his age—which is damn old, too old to be wade fishing alone on the Wolf River’s Slough Gundy Rapids.
When this belatedly dawned on him and he had inched his way over the slippery rocks through waist-deep, very cold, rapidly-moving water to the river bank, he said to himself that he had indeed done a very dumb thing, but nothing lost. Then he saw the trout lily and sat on a convenient pole to photograph it, whereupon the pole broke, putting the keeper, encumbered in awkward fishing gear, flat on his back in a leaf-lined depression with nothing to grab onto.
Think of a turtle helplessly upside down in a pothole. The keeper laid there for a while, knowing that he was going to somehow eventually get out of the hole and upright again but it was going to be a major project. It was, rather unbelievable in fact—this old man squirming for long moments on the woods floor like some giant metamorphosing grub. When it was finally over, the trout lily was still there and so was the keeper, thankful that if he had to fall on his ass it hadn’t happened in the river.