There is within the realm of possibility a chance to fish in the not so distant future. Six weeks. Roughly forty-two more days until I can string up my rod and get away. I so want to disappear. To vanish into a foggy stand of trees only to emerge on the other side to find moving water...fish gently dimpling the surface for as far as I can see. I want that initial chill as the water receives my boots. The smells of fishy water and forest decay. The distant silhouette of another angler looking down at the minuscule fly he has in his hand.
To wade into water up to my knees looking underneath the surface film for good spots to land my next step. The judgement of distance as I try and gauge when I have gone out far enough to begin, and then the still time when the stream recovers from my intrusion. Muddy ghosts of what seconds ago were my footsteps billow and twist, expanding downstream.
The sounds of cattle as they moan and complain for no apparent reason echo through the field across from me. The grass is tall and leaning over from the weight of dew that clings to its top. Eventually a tractor will fire up somewhere beyond this field and the cattle will go mute as they dissect the direction and intent of the driver.
I will cast close. No more than fifteen feet between me and the fly. Then twenty. Twenty-five. The distance dictated by success, or lack thereof. My mends will feel awkward at first, and will most likely be overdone. The fly will lift from the water with each flick of my wrist until I relearn the feel. Only then will the drift be in search of perfection.
Perhaps there will be a take. With swiftness and a hope for control I will lift the rod and set the hook. Barbless. I will feel the quiver of the fish transfer to the dirty cork in my hand. How many times have I felt this? It never gets old. I will pull the line in with my left hand, not needing to put the fish on the reel. Circles of floating line will gather around my thighs. Large drops of water will fall from the guides, catching small specks of the emerging sun as they return to the river.
The fish, a brown trout, will struggle to escape. Saving his most elusive tactics for the last moment, he will race round my legs until my hand settles under him. I will remove the hook without drawing the fish from the water. He rests in my hand for a moment before vanishing with a flick of his tail. I watch the direction he has taken and try to follow his leaving till the glare of the water swallows him whole.
Back and forth. Back and forth. The line will once again extend. I will repeat the process. Always assessing. Always correcting. The zen of the art form is not unnoticed by me, nor is the fact that creation has been opened to me again.
I say "Thank you Lord". No one hears, and perhaps if they did, they wouldn't fully understand.
These are the moments of cleansing. When all is made right and is at rest. These are the times when I am sure beyond any reasonable doubt in my mind, that there is indeed a God. There is indeed light in the darkest of times. There is a place, a haven, which brings out the boy in me. I am not old, but am growing older, and I will finish my time in that place, returning to a family that will receive me. Accept me. My children will ask what I saw, what I caught. I will spin the most elaborate tale. My Jill will look on. Our eyes will meet. Everything will be as it should be.