July 29, 2011


Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
Rabindranath Tagore

All men think all men mortal, but themselves.
Edward Young

The trail takes me back upstream. I've walked it hundreds of times, both up an down, at all times of the day, in every kind of weather. Today I see it winding ahead of me into the fracturing light, revealing itself slowly as I go. I take my time, quietly reveling, appreciating the way the ebbing light is filtered through the tall pines. The refracting rays from the water below and to my left itinerantly highlight the undersides of the canopy branches above me. It's a bit surreal, and I smile.
And, as I walk, the memory of the past two hours plays and replays in my mind; the current's constant push, a well placed cast, the swing bending into an elongated 's' just long enough to portend the jolt, and I remember, when it came, how good it felt...

It has been quite a ride, these past few weeks. My river has been stubborn this year, giving up its high, racing flows only grudgingly, sometimes resisting for days at a time any inclination to slow. My anxieties compounded themselves as each day dropped away from the calendar to be replaced over and again by days of similar frustration. My burning desire to be fishing would compel me to be here day after day if only to once again confirm what the cold, hard reality was. So I would spend that time exploring, retracing the trails to my beloved places all the while knowing full well that this was indeed a true measure of my patience.

I near the fork in the trail and start up the hillside. It is steep here, and stays that way clear to the crest, some two hundred yards above me. There will come that day when this climb will be so formidable as to give me pause. That thought recurs now to me more often, and pushes me each time to climb steadily as though it is nothing, but I know there will come a day...

Everything looks different to me today. The river is new, a gift from the same torrents that tortured me. Silver lining, I guess, but it really is true. The carnage has changed my river; scoured, augered, bludgeoned, destroyed, redesigned. The finished product is now a hundred thousand new puzzles to solve, one piece at a time, and time always runs out. I stop as I near the crest and turn so that I can see my river as it comes around the corner upstream. The cerise light of the just settled sun ripples off of the water as the crisp western line of shadow steadily advances. A ring appears on the inside of a seam, and then another, expanding as they slide, quietly swallowed by the darkness. I cannot for the life of me imagine how a trout could survive the hydraulic holocaust of a run-off like the one just concluded even though I know they have not only survived, they have prospered. They, as always, have the edge. They were there, witnessing the change. They are ahead of the curve. That makes me smile again.

I would like to live forever, please. I want, each day into eternity, to walk down the trail off of the hillside, stop and wonder where it is I will fish today. I want to stare into the setting sun reflecting off the riffles and feel the cool current surge against my legs. I want to feel the rush of a solid take as my soft hackle carves another perfect arc, or as my Adams settles quietly above a perfect rainbow. And I want to walk the trail back home, into the sunset, thinking about where I will go tomorrow, and then the day after that...

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