Looking Forward to Spring
By Sam Anderson
Winter is a great time to reflect on the seasons that have past.
It seems that winter is the longest of all seasons and I sometimes wish
my life away hoping that spring will come. Standing on the hillside
overlooking the wind-blown river, I feel the chill of winter in my bones
like the nagging ache of persistent flu. Whitecaps march in uneven
rows, blown southward to their deaths on a rocky shore. The sky is
ghost-gray, with scudding low clouds moving rapidly across the frozen,
I close my eyes, and I remember last summer when I ventured down
to the trout stream and decided that my pool wasn't the best so the next
best thing to do is to try another location. As I moved along the
river bank I noticed another angler in the pool that I was going to try.
The angler looked like someone who stepped out of a Norman Rockwell print.
He had a hat on with a number of flies hooked onto the edge. He sported
a pipe and the smoke rose with a magical curl that drifted directly above
his head. His vest held his forceps and net along with a small box
of flies that filled the pocket. His waders were pulled up to his
chest and they blended with the river. He held a fly rod in his right
hand and pulled off additional line in his left. He was double hulling
and the line was whipping back and forth in a perfect S shape. Trout
were rising 50 yards in front of him to snatch the latest bug hatch
and some bugs escaped the jaws and rose into the air to create a swarm.
The angler was about to make his last cast before letting the fly line
sit on the water and as he did his back cast came behind him and stopped
just about a foot from the surface of the stream. Suddenly, like
a meteorite, a small six inch brookie leaped at the fly and impaled himself
on the hook. Of course the angler didn't realize it and he proceeded
to bring the fly line forward. The added weight must not have been
felt by the angler and the little brookie slammed into the back of the
angler's head directly behind the right ear of the angler. Needless
to say, the image of this picturesque angler was shattered when he fell
face first into the stream extinguishing his pipe and filling his waders
full of cold clear water. I began to chuckle to myself, but couldn't
hold the laughter in, so when the angler picked himself up from the stream
I think he thought I had thrown a rock at him. I tried to explain,
but I don't think he thought that I was sincere because every time I told
him about the little brookie jumping on his fly I began to laugh.
The last I saw of that guy was when he picked up his belongings and sloshed
out of the pool all the time muttering something under his breath.
The laughter tends to make the muttering fade into the sounds given off
from the moving water of the stream.
Winter is necessary. Winter is the earth's opportunity to lie
fallow, to regroup, to prepare for a new season of birth and growth we
call spring. Even the river, whose gray, cold expanse gives the appearance
of lifelessness, is awaiting the transformation that will come with rising
temperatures, a rise just as certain as the crawl of the sun across the
Bass swim in schools in the deep channels, waiting to move to shallow
water to spawn. Other species slowly fin in dark holes nearby.
Cold and sluggish at the moment, they, too, will cruise shallow water,
searching out partners for their rites of spring. Trout and crappies,
bluegills and perch, walleye and catfish, all wait in the depths while
nature adjusts them. Occasionally they eat, but not often.
Fat disappears as they swell with spawn.
And thinking of all this I stand on the crest of the hill,
and I feel warm. The memories are the fuel and as I look back in
reflection I add another log to the fire. Yes! Spring will come and
all will again be right.
Of course I'm tired of winter. I am tired of watching fishing
on T.V. and I ache to get out on the open water. The city is dull
and dreary in the cold. As I watch the weather forecast of the upcoming
storm, I reach for my file and start on the task of touching up those neglected
hooks. It seems that the winter has just one color gray brown
a depressing sight.
But I know that out beyond the city, out in the forests and hills
and rivers and lakes where my heart lives, winter is the necessary prelude
to spring. And shortly, the day will come when the air feels warm.
When the wind turns and blows from out of the south, and melting snow runs
in slushy rivulets down wooded slopes and yes, even city streets.
We'll loosen our coats and take off our hats and breathe deeply, knowing
that the magic is about to occur. And on that day I'll smile, my
step will be lighter, and the world will be wearing a smile.
Closely thereafter, one fine afternoon when the temperature is
comfortably climbing, the garage door will open and I will wheel out the
Walleye boat and prepare her for the maiden voyage. The hooks have
all been honed to an exact sharpness, the reels have been spooled up with
Easy Cast line and the rods have been inspected to see if any eyes need
replacing. The batteries are installed the
motors have been tested and approved. As the boat slips off the trailer
into the cool waters of the river I will slip on the Stearns vest,
I am the luckiest soul on the face of the earth. Then and only then,
will the magic of spring be complete.
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