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    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, uncaring terrain.
     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 sky. 

    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.
     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 new Champion Walleye Boats 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 Stren fishing Line Easy Cast line and the rods have been inspected to see if any eyes need replacing.   The batteries are installed the Mercury Outboards 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.

     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.

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