Thoughts on a season just begun

Sixty-four years completed, and a season just begun. The calendar hints that this should be the peak, the great finale to spring, but in this strange Catskill spring it is only the beginning.

I have enjoyed some fishing, yes, some satisfaction and a little heartbreak, just the things that make angling a passion; but I have missed so much more. The company of friends adds much to the life of an angler, and all my fishing has been solitary by necessity this year.

I miss the visits with my friend Dennis, and the joy of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for the history of fly fishing, the bamboo rod, and the legacy of the Catskills. By now there should have been at least a couple of those afternoons in his rod shop, the ones where talking a bit lasts half the day, filled with intense interest, stories and laughter. We managed one breakfast last winter before the world turned upside down. It was just enough to make me miss our visits even more.

My best friend Mike finally retired as the curtain fell upon 2019. I looked forward to his visits, more frequent, and freed from the stress of schedules and responsibilities. I saw us fishing together because the fishing was good and the hatches full, rather then because the days suited our vacation schedules or work commitments. I am missing long days on the water, jawing at one another, catching trout, and sipping late beers on the porch when the day is through and the tackle put away. We should be sitting at the bench each morning and talking about the new fly just fashioned that’s sure to make that day a success!

John and I have renewed a friendship forged decades ago in conversations in my fly shop, and evenings along the gentle Falling Spring. I hoped we would have floated the river a time or two by now and met along a reach of water to share an early hatch and laugh at the crazy weather. I am anxious to cast the new bamboo rod he built, one he just got to fish a bit himself. I watched him planning strips and gluing them into a blank last September, and I am certain the result is beautiful.

I have been after my friend Andy to join me for some fishing in the Catskills for several years now. This was the year he was sure to set aside some time. As a young doctor he has been caught in the thick of the madness, burdened not only by trying to help the sick, but to keep himself and his young family safe. My heart and my hope goes out to him! May we somehow yet string up our Granger rods along the wide Delaware.

There are those I have met only through correspondence, whose words led me to speak of fishing, of showing them my rivers, once the madness is behind us. It will soon be summer and we seem to be teetering upon the brink of another disaster, rather than sighing with relief at the passing of the threat.

I contemplate the questions of the season before me, and I hope that we will find peace and safety. I look toward the day I can reunite with my friends, and walk the banks of some favorite reach of bright water, when I may once again live the full measure of my angling life.

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