The river flowed the color of honey - sourwood and unfiltered. Dark enough to barely see the rough outline of a few rocks under the surface, yet fast enough to easily make out the few slabs sparsely covered by the current. It was slightly little higher than normal, but with July thunderstorms rolling through the area for the last few days it made perfect sense. The river should be up.
A path meandered alongside recently mowed fields with trees covering the old gravel lane. The quiet walk grew to a relaxing traipse pocked with sightings of Gemmed Satyrs, Petaltails, Darners & Cruisers, keeping the time occupied nicely enough while the humid breeze more than reminded me that July seldom falters in telling the story of Summertime. The sounds of cicadas, warblers, and flowing water filled my ears as I dodged leftover mud puddles for some inane reason.
It is totally out of character for me not to trod through mud puddles.
Arrival at the riverside always stretches my thought process in a futile effort to know where to begin. An effort because of the abiding nature of the river; futile since the transmogrification constantly progresses. The presence of a gorgeous Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron) loitering aimlessly on a crag upstream eased the decision. Where reside birds of prey, there reside fish. Time to get wet.
Inundation cools the woolen sock-clad feet shod by felt-soled boots. The refreshing feeling admonished me for the long dereliction of neglecting this part of life. Too far away and too long apart live the times where my feet walk upon the bottom of any river. Part of me always longs to dive right in leaving the rod and vest on the bank while the demoralizing smudges of everyday life heave away with the current. And then a fish jumps, reminding me of my purpose for this afternoon.
I am, once again, smitten by a childhood love - or at least something akin to the lust of a teenager. Modern reality shows and flashy advertising videos place life in complete juxtaposition with living. No fancy glasses, clothes, or gleaming method of transportation to trek to some remote exotic locale. No high-dollar fly boxes or fishing gear. Just me, a rod, a line, and a little friend-tied fly at the end of a leader - attempting to fool the most wonderfully elusive and wily little Salvelinus fontinalus. Few things quiet the heart, cajole the mind, or discipline the body like fishing.
The initial span of time passed observing a specimen cavorting up and across the current. The piscine acrobatics mesmerized me while a minutiae of intellect formed a strategy, observed and mimicked the entomological processes transpiring below the dingy facade, while I ambled into casting position.
Elusive really doesn't do the species justice. Illusory more aptly characterizes them most days. The little magician appeared in various contortions in the same general region every twenty or so seconds, only to fade into the murk and reprise the show at odd intervals. Disheartened after what seemed an interminable duration, numerous patterns, drifts, and exasperating attempts it proved time to move upstream, leaving the aerialist to continue the show awaiting the audience of the next heron to flutter into that section of the river.
His brethren farther upstream would prove less baffling, more willing to be attentive to the offerings presented, and as boisterous in their acrobatics as they were entertaining to me.
Time in the river brings melodies to my heart. As I gallivanted back toward civilization words came to my mind of a song dear enough and, as the fishing, not often visited:
'Cause I know the river is deep
I found out that the currents are tricky
And I know that the river is wide
And oh, the currents are strong
And I could lose every dream
I dreamt that I could carry with me
Oh, but I will reach the other side
Please don't let me have to wait too long
- "The River" by Rich Mullins
If time apart makes the heart grow fonder, my love for rivers has and will continue to deepen immeasurably for some time to come.
Now, if only I could find some boiled peanuts on the ride home . . .