So I’m sitting here looking out the window, savoring the notion that spring’s about to get here at last. And I’m glad. Winter is nice, but spring is better.
When spring comes around, everything is once again brand new. The world awakens in every way, and thoughts turn to…
Yeah, I was going to say to love, and that’s true too. Sometimes the clichés are right on. But at this precise instant it’s fishing that’s come to mind.
The start of what we always called “fishing season” was always an epic occasion in my family, heralded by much excitement and ritual and ceremony. It was kind of like Christmas, or maybe birthdays, but deep down I guess I always knew that the coming of fishing season was always at the top of the list.
Later, when I had kids of my own, I’d get just as excited as I did when I was a child. That first warm spring day would come, and I’d be ready. I’d get up early while the kids were still asleep and pick up the fly rod and ease toward the door, quiet as dawn, set to slip out for a morning of solitaire-style water therapy. Just me and the creek and, with any luck, a fish or two.
I started to daydream, to remember…
Years ago…spring had come, and The Day had at long last arrived. But the night before, while I was getting ready, the child had seen the rod. And knew.
“Take me?” asked the tiny voice.
I hadn’t said no. But I hadn’t said yes either.
And now, not asleep after all, in the wee small hours of the first day of Fishing Season, on that Most Important Day of All Days, the little one had appeared as if by magic there in the hall by the door.
“Take me with you?” the tiny voice said again, this time rubbing sleepy eyes with one hand and holding a bright orange Snoopy spinning rod in the other.
“Take me fishing?” – a question now – and for an instant the universe had paused.
I remembered. I’d looked toward the flyrod — and then I had looked at the child …
And to my immense credit…
“Take you fishing?” I’d said. “Take you fishing! Of course I’ll take you fishing!”
The child smiled then, and all creation cheered as we followed the dew-sparkled path that led to the water, walking slowly, taking our time on our way to the pond to see what would happen next.
I remembered. It was a long time ago, but I remembered every detail. I remembered it all...
Her voice nudged me back to present tense.
“I made you coffee,” she says.
There’s a pause, and I sip. She makes the best coffee.
“Thinking about fishing?” she asks, or maybe it’s a statement. She knows me well.
“Uh-huh,” I say, “and other things…”
“Good thoughts?” she asks.
“Oh yes,” I reply.
I take another sip. It’s heaven in a cup.
And I remember something else –
It was last year. We were going to dinner or lunch or something, and on a whim I said, “Have you ever been fly fishing?”
She allowed as to how she had not.
“Well then!” I had said, suddenly unaccountably hopeful, and a few miles down the road I turned right instead of left and we were soon at a little creek that I knew was full of fish. I rigged up a rod, and in a minute we were walking a shaded trail through the soft green light of the wood.
We reached the water. I stepped down onto a gravel bar, taking her hand to steady her over a rough spot as she followed. Then I handed her the rod.
“Want to try it?” I asked.
For an instant the universe paused. Then --
“Sure,” she said, and she smiled.
She cast the little fly over near that deep spot there, exactly where I would have cast it if I’d been holding the rod.
The fly began to drift with the current. She followed it with her eyes.
I watched, too, waiting, expectant, wondering where the drift would take it, watching to see what would happen next.