- Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:10 pm
I have this idea of a place, somewhere I think I’ve been a few times, though I don’t know where it is. There’s tall pines on a ridge, a meadow, and a river with soft, green-clear current. A pool tails out and runs along a grassy bank. In the bank there’s a bush and beneath the bush there’s a log. Next to the log there’s a trout. I’m sure of that but not much else. I think the someplace might be trapped inside of a ball someone kicked over a fence. It might’ve been me, I don’t know. What else? The trout is a brown, the sort with big black spots that are so dense they smush together. Behind the spots the fish is coppery-gold with a chrome polish that you can only see if you aren’t really looking. There are damselflies over the water, electric greens and blues and winks of night black wings. I rose the fish once. A low-riding grasshopper fly with knotted pheasant tail legs – the kind I can’t tie and never fish – plunked down and drifted a three count with a well timed twitch. The trout showed the way rain begins and was gone the same way. Afterwards I was all alone with a dull ringing in my ears.
It feels like normalcy is a sandstone tower shrinking in the rear view mirror of a car on a desert road I don’t remember getting into. Brad Pitt shadow casting was once the worst thing to happen to fly fishing. Bits of dead leaves swirl around your feet in the current the same way years pass. I feel like the two are connected somehow. As I get older I am starting to get the temptation to talk about the good old days. I used to think that sort of thing was only for the old guy I’d find sitting on the bank in the sun on the first warm day in April, wearing hip boots and wool, smoking a cigar, explaining his theories on little black stoneflies and telling me about what it used to be like before. Before a bunch of people like me showed up. Assholes are everywhere but not right here. I never thought I’d be that old guy and I still don’t though now I want to. Half the world is on fire literally and the other half figuratively, yet trout still rise which seems impossible if you read the news. I used to think more people needed to try fishing but I don’t think that’s true anymore. Or maybe they do but just not near me. That might be selfish but I’ve made an effort in my life not to owe anybody anything and that includes trout. At the end of the day things could be a lot worse. Or better. I don’t really like the saying “Such is life” but as my grandpa used to say, “Tough shit.”
Norman Maclean died on my first birthday so I only know him from his writing and the happenstance of spending a lot of time near his family river. His world was beautiful. “At least a river of it was.” And it still is, somehow. There’s more distractions now but the basis of it all is the same. The summer sun in Montana is still hot, ponderosas still smell good. The world’s still full of bastards (and getting fuller). The right pattern is still better than the wrong one. Hackle still floats, water still runs downhill over rock, and fish still live in between. Sometimes they look up. You can do pretty well for yourself with the simple hope that a fish will rise.
They all wanna be Hank Williams
They don't wanna have to die