Two for two.
Oh for two.
Oh for oh.
One for one.
This new addiction, this marvelous affliction has a vernacular all its own. Much of it is numeric, but the stuff that counts, isn't. The numbers are a carryover, a prerequisite. After all, this is
To this fledgling steelheader, that kind of mathematical romance seems oddly disconnected. The numbers are low, and the counting is tectonically slow. Hours and days pass between the counting of the next integer, and the sum of the equation is so vastly beyond the digits that their mere utterance seems absurdly disconnected from the greater reality. The sum of the event is so much greater than individual parts that counting them is an act of disrespect, or idiocy.
I think I'm becoming just exactly that kind of happy idiot.
This is my second outing this year. The first was a one shot, one-day deal that found me holding this guy during the mid afternoon. It's the first steelhead on my own gear, and perhaps the fourth or fifth I've ever taken, I'm just not sure. Sure was nice to have a buddy there to witness it and to snap a quick pic or two.
On the sheer emotional magnitude of that day, I started working my day planner, finessing my calendar to arrange for a four-day weekend. I needed to go back, needed to step knee deep into the numbing cold. I longed to slip into the current, and by doing so, place my request with that current to slip my mind away downstream, for my thoughts to leach out into the cold water and to drown on their way to an ocean that was far removed from the stresses that have come to define me.
That may be getting a little deep.
I submitted my leave request to my boss (great guy) and he said "Go for it. I think a fishing trip will do you good."
Did I mention he's a really great guy?
So, last Friday saw me heading south. Five hours of windshield time and I was back in steelhead country.
It was really hot there.
I mean REALLY hot.
I crashed at my son and daughter-in-law's place. They're great kids--he's a veteran of the Iraqi war (two tours) and now, a nursing student. She's a doll, and they're so in love that it just makes me smile to be around them.
Dark and early on Saturday morning, I headed out alone. My buddy is entertaining family and couldn't join me, so I'd be venturing out for the first time to spey for steelhead solo.
Perhaps ten minutes into the morning, I hooked up. UNBEFREAKINGLIEVABLE!
Whoops--not what I was after.
Within the hour, another bump.
Again, not what I came for.
I spent the morning, alone with my thoughts, grinding away in my mind at the tensions of work, the pricks that dominate my social landscape, the pain that others create that I am asked, generally in vain, to repair.
Pull, don't push.
Stop the rod tip high.
Don't force it.
It seems you can't do this thing fast, and for me, that's part of the appeal. Slow, methodical, patient, with no consideration for the passage of time or the occurrence of events. Soon, my thoughts wandered from the absurdly narcissistic preoccupation with what was happening in
Feed out line.
Let it drift.
I'm aware that, to some, I'm doing it wrong--beads and bobbers and not the swung fly. That's fine, I think I understand your point of view. I'll be tying some streamer tonight with my old friends, and I'll put them to use soon enough. For now, I'm content in the knowledge that I'm a neophyte, a greenhorn with much to learn. I'll learn, improve, rise above myself. What I'm also learning is what an unspeakable privilege it is to stand in the flow of a timeless river and bear witness to an ancient migration of creatures that patiently, methodically, mysteriously pursue the demands of their DNA.
I am a spectator, attempting to somehow become a participant, in the eternal ebb and flow of the steelhead's endless travels. It's like I'm a pimple-faced adolescent, trying to cut in on an intricate waltz with an elegant woman who is hopelessly beyond my station.
Almost universally, the answer isn't even "no." The non-reply conveys a clearer truth, the fact that I am completely invisible to her, not even receiving a glance in reply. It is truly as if I don't exist. Zen-like, this non-existence is actually, and perhaps perversely, precisely why I am here. The rest of the world--my office, my town, the angst of living in the human race--goes on pretty well without me. So too does the river, downward, and the patient migration of the ages, upward. I am here, but it's not about me, but about this sense of purpose and place that truly exceeds my being.
And then, the indicator stops. And with it, so does everything else. For a split second that hangs forever long, the signal that moves from my eyes to my brain and is translated into a single, prayerful word--
But then there's the weight, and then, the throb of a disbelieving shaking head.
The endless cadence of the casting, drifting, stripping, casting, drifting, stripping shatters into an explosion of movement, line ripping through the water, and the realization that my frozen feet cannot easily be coaxed into wading backwards toward the bank. I'm suddenly on greased bowling balls, balancing on dull wooden pegs while the wildly racing steelhead rips madly in all directions. Stripping, reeling, cursing, whooping, stumbling, begging, I stagger dangerously toward the bank.
I have no net, and no friend to help me land this fish. I want to photograph the moment, attempt in some way to preserve the experience, but I'm reluctant to stress this wild fish more than I should. It's a good fish--a "B" run native--and the best I can do is place my hand under it's head as both a sign of respect and a reference to it's size.
And then, it's gone.
Two for two.
Oh for two.
Oh for oh.
One for one.
I found that, on day three, my inner dialogue had changed. No longer was I grinding on the matters that I fled to the river to escape. As I cast, I mulled over the numbers that failed miserably to even remotely describe what I was experiencing. The cadence of them--"two for two, oh for two, oh for oh, and one for one" struck my mind differently now. No longer numbers, they were now the rhythm of a forgotten song that escaped my ability to recall. I'd strip, cast, mend, and drift--thinking, trying to remember, failing to recall, and strip, cast, mend and drift again.
It wasn't until I found myself singing that I was aware I'd found it.
Like a page from a romance book
The sky opened and the earth shook
Down on copperline
That beautiful lady at the ball had finally stopped looking past me. Not only did we dance, but the sky opened and the earth shook.
It's not about the numbers.[/report]