Winter

Spires in the current where the river lingers between solid and liquid.

At eight degrees below zero the boards of my old porch loudly protest each footstep. It is quiet here just after sunrise, the sky as blue and clear as the heavens themselves.

I am bundled here in my little angling retreat, for the heat in this old house cannot battle such cold. To pass the early morning hours I think of fishing, of bright skies which shelter me in warmth, and mayflies on the wing. I crave a different chill, the chill of the mist on a summer morning, the feel of goosebumps beneath my shirtsleeves as I stalk a still pool after daybreak. There is an electricity to that sensation not felt in the true, deep cold of winter.

There’s a four-weight bamboo rod in my left hand, and my grip tenses ever so slightly when I note the first gentle ring upon the mirror of the surface, before the mist obscures my view. The line is free now, laying in soft coils on the water, until my arm and wrist lift and shoot them outward and away. My eyes squint to track the tiny fly at distance, its sparse hackles offering minute specs of light, evidence of its being until the mirror bulges softly and the game begins.

I am connected then to the life of the river, the energy of that mystical, natural world by the living fibers of cane. The trout pulls hard toward the middle of the river, the reel shrill and bright as the morning, and for a while I am awash in his world.

The droplets are cold on my hands as I slip him back into his world; and then the warmth of the rising sun tingles on my flesh, and I realize I am back in my own world…

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