Marking the Territory: Canadice Lake

It seems that over the past few years I’ve made an annual, half-hearted attempt to catch a lake trout with an artificial fly, something I’ve yet to accomplish with success. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s not that lakers are particularly difficult to take with a fly, it’s just that… I’m not a lake fisherman, I’m a stream and river guy, a fish out water when I’m faced with miles of stuff that stays in place and doesn’t flow anywhere. And let’s not talk about my timing for lake trout adventures, or the skill level required to hook one of these North American chars.

It was a beautiful day, and that’s what counts… For upstate New York, it was a first truly spring day, with sunshine, still air, and temperature climbing into the 60s. Good for lake trout fishing, maybe.

I wanted some new angling territory, so I drove to Canadice Lake, my favorite of the Finger Lakes, a cold glacially-toned water that, for some reason, I’ve never fished before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was marking new ground, perhaps– leaving a boot track on the wild eastern shore, learning something about this place, putting something of my essence on the lake (okay, like a cat or a dog lifting a tail or a leg), an action that says, “I was here. I’m probably harmless but I’m letting you know, nonetheless.”

All this makes me think of our beloved family pet of 13 years, Mustache the Kat, who died the other day and was laid to rest on our hill beside Brook the Dogg.

Mustache was an indoor/outdoor animal with human-like characteristics given to him by those whose lives he enriched. Mustache loved to mark his territory.

For instance, one time I was standing with him on our driveway when we saw a black bear ambling toward us from a distant bend in the road. Taking heed, Mustache lowered himself defensively. With head pointed and with measured steps, he growled as if to say, “I’ll take care of this; you stay here.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“No!” I commanded. “Mustache, get OVER here!” I felt like telling him something else… I might be stupid and only human, but I wasn’t born yesterday, damnit. I grabbed him about the same time that the bear finally saw us and no doubt felt intimidated by a two-legged being and a miniature lion.

Whereas our cat marked his territory with defiance toward a bear, I looked at the lovely Canadice Lake and faced the spectacle of Time, of Chronos, the great creator and devourer. Time had a way about himself, as if to say, enjoy this scene fully, my friend; this lake is wild as a bear and it’s alive, like you, but only for a while.

Canadice is the smallest of New York’s eleven Finger Lakes, with a shoreline of about seven miles, an area of 649 acres and a maximum depth of 83 feet. It’s the highest of the lakes in elevation, and it’s the wildest and remotest of all the Finger Lakes, despite being only 30-35 miles south of urban Rochester. Along with neighboring Hemlock Lake,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Canadice serves the water needs of Rochester and, thus, is protected on state forest lands.

I had noticed that ice still covered the shallow north end. While standing in the lake near a canoe launch site on the eastern shore, I felt the cold water pressing tightly at my breathable waders. It was quiet here: no camps on the lake, no boats, no human voices other than that of a hiker or two traversing the trail on the west side of the water, half a mile away.

A gull screeched and a pileated woodpecker chortled from the pine-studded forest on the western hills, but that was it. If I hadn’t known otherwise, I could’ve been casting on a pristine lake in the Adirondacks.

When an angler takes the time to detail a description like this, you can figure that the fishing was probably crap. And it was today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo brown, rainbow or vaunted lake trout came to the streamers that I played on a stout leader and a sinking line. It was still too cold in the lake and too peaceful in this lovely valley for success. At least that’s how I saw it then.

The lakers come close to shore in the early spring and in the fall when it’s spawning time. They are wild fish here in Canadice, and unless I get a float-tube or some other naval device, they probably won’t see me again till… next year?

The enjoyment that I got from this visit to the lake was my “marking” of the territory. I figure that the place is mine to return to when the next small window of opportunity presents itself.

With that, I’ll sound one final note about our old cat and his territory, and the red fox…

DSCN1815A fox had walked up from the creek near the house and was crossing the road, but he got noticed by our feline guardian.

I’d been mowing the lawn at the time but stopped the motor when I saw a pickup truck come to a halt nearby. The driver, window down, was laughing. I turned to see a fox running up the road then stopping to turn its head. Whoa, the cat was still in full pursuit! The fox bolted across the yard, and Mustache pulled up near the truck where the driver sat amused and shaking his head…

All I could do, I guess, was to call the cat over, scratch his ears, and get back to mowing– one of the ways I feed the great Creator, the Devourer whose name is Time, and try to slow down his advance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Shenandoah Streams Revisited

[In the previous post I reflected on the first three days of a recent visit to Shenandoah National Park. In this post I’ll summarize experiences of my subsequent and final days OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA of hiking and fishing in Virginia’s park.]

Day 4: Richard and I revisited the North Fork Moormans for a while. I fished several of my favorite pools inside the national park and did well casting a bead-head nymph. Of the half dozen trout that acknowledged my attempts, the largest hit the 11-inch mark, which is pretty hefty for a stream like this. The trout aren’t numerous, and the lack of little ones is disconcerting (where are the young-of-the-year?), but the native fish that said hello to me had size.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADay 5: Returned to the Rapidan today, an excellent visit.

The sky was overcast and hung with mist and light showers. While the air temperature climbed into the 70s, the river temperature nosed into the lower 50s.

I didn’t see another human till the afternoon, and then only a few hikers and one other fly-fisher. I fished the lower Rapidan inside the park, changing my approach from anOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA attempt to cover new ground to slowing down and simply enjoying whatever pools and riffles were in front of me.

Again, bloodroot flowers adorned the trail edges, and the shrill piercing notes of the tail-wagging Louisiana waterthrush accompanied my efforts along the stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe angling was slow at first– a brookie here and there, falling to a Hare’s Ear and Black Stonefly nymph, and then returning to the water unharmed. Around noon, however, I began to notice the first mayflies hatching, to be imitated with the Blue Quill and Quill Gordon dry fly patterns, and the fun began.

I wandered up the Staunton River, a Rapidan tributary, a wild and rocky stream that yielded a couple of tiny brook trout on a Rio Grande King (attractor pattern), but the Rapidan itself was where the catch was hot.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fish rose eagerly to a Quill Gordon, size 14. My only question was, “Did the river hold any trout larger than, say, nine inches long?”

Experimenting with various river locales, I finally answered in the affirmative.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACasting from one precarious spot above some boulders into a deep and turbulent hole, I found the trout rising/slashing at the dry fly on cast after cast.

It wasn’t easy landing them above the rocks, where I had to work them through a watery chute, but I fooled several fish as good as any from the Moormans.

I felt pleasantly exhausted as I hiked out of the park in the evening, ready to battle the holiday traffic of urban Charlottesville.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How good was the fishing in terms of numbers caught/released? If each wild brookie was an Easter egg, some youngsters might find a couple dozen of them hidden among the garden stones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADay 6: I wasn’t going to surpass the previous day’s angling mark, so I was happy to hang up the rod, and hit the trail with friends and family. You know, going out to the southern breweries, wineries, and barbecue joints.

A perfect complement to spring days on the stream.

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River Notes, Shenandoah Nat’l Park

Day 1: Driving west from Warrenton, Virginia into the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park provided a pleasant reentry into the realms of hiking andDSCN6240 brook trout fishing.

Wife, Leighanne, and daughter, Alyssa, gave company and comic relief to my sunny day, blue sky adventure. Beautiful weather, 60s, perfect for a Skyline Drive walk downhill into the headwaters of the Rose River, a feeder stream to the Robinson that feeds the Rapidan, Rappahannock, and James River system of the Chesapeake drainage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith an easy 1.3 mile descent to the Rose, I started casting for native brook trout with my conveniently designed 4-piece rod. The upper Rose was flowing clear and cold (45 degrees F., a bit chilly for dry fly fishing but good with a bead-head nymph). Although groups of hikers and even a bait-casting fisherman were ahead of me at some of the pools, I did okay, considering I angled for only an hour or so.

The brookies were colorful and lively. My wintry legs and and ankles felt a bit rubbery OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhile stepping among the wet rocks and boulders, but I was getting there. And Leighanne, recovering from back surgery, did the 2.6 mile hike with relative ease.

Day 2: March made an exit like a lamb. This seemed to be the day I’d been waiting for all winter. The drive west out of Charlottesville into the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah National Park was filled with the anticipation of high spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe old road/hiking trail along the North Fork Moormans was starred with wildflowers, my first of the year– coltsfoot, bloodroot, hepatica and spring beauty. Songbirds, including the Eastern phoebe and Louisiana waterthrush, rang their notes from the cliffs of this cold mountain stream.

With the water temperature in the high 40s, it seemed reasonable to start casting with a nymph again. There were midges over the stream, but the stoneflies and Blue Quills had yet to make an appearance. Whereas the Hare’s Ear nymph was all I really needed for the day, I was glad to mix in some dry fly fishing after the first trout rose to the surface.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After suffering devastation from flooding along with landslides in 1996, the Moormans seems to be making a remarkable recovery, if the size of its wild brook trout are any indication. Two of the trout I caught today, fooled by an artificial nymph, were notable for an eastern mountain stream. The smaller specimen was 10 inches, and the heftiest native measured almost a foot in length.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomeone asks me, “In fishing, does size matter?” Well, I guess that here it does.

The Moormans is a beautiful stream in the wild eastern flanks of the park. There were times, well into the mountains, when I wandered farther from the trail than usual. I came to places that often included a deep, lovely pool, a place with real solitude. They were places where I’d be in quite a jam if I happened to break an ankle or something while dodging logs and boulders. But I’m glad I found those little trout locales.

Had I known of them, but failed to fish them for some reason, I might have had a tough OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtime living with myself for several days.

All in all, the six-mile hike, out and back, was filled with a series of pools and small cascades, of wildflowers and songbirds, and colorful trout.

Spring was truly here.

Day 3: No joke, April dawned cooler than March, but clear and beautiful along the lower Rapidan River. From the dead-end of pastoral Route 662, I walked the river trail into Shenandoah National Park with Leighanne, Alyssa, and my brother-in-law Richard. Where the Staunton River poured its rocky mountain waters into the Rapidan, I parted company with the others (we had come here in two vehicles), fished the lower Staunton and caught the day’s first brook trout at the junction with the larger stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Staunton’s flow was high enough to thwart all hikers without wading shoes. I crossed it and proceeded up the Rapidan, one of the finest wild trout streams in the eastern U.S., and soon felt the residues of human society dissolve in the clear, deep holes and wonderful, boulder-studded pools.

With water temperature in the high 40s again, with bright sunshine overhead, the fishing was slower than on the Moormans, at least for a while. With the drifting of a bead-head nymph, I caught an occasional brook trout, none of which would surpass the nine-inch mark today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Around 4 p.m., I saw the first rise-form in the “Emerald Pool” and, shortly after, the Quill Gordon mayflies fluttered from the rippling surfaces.

At one remarkable location framed by ancient mountains, I caught and released five brookies on a ragged dry fly, size #14.

Thank the green earth, please, for Virginia’s Rapidan River.

So, with three more days to hit the southern streams, this old April fool is tired but pleased to be your humble servant.

Fish on!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSCN6237DSCN6239

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Passing the Founders’ Rod

Some thoughts on what it means to pass along the Founders’ Rod (the fly rod on loan to me for one year by the Slate Run Sportsmen):

At the spring meeting of the Slate Run Sportsmen at Slate Run, PA,  I read from a leatherbound… “Fly Fishing Journal, Passing on the Heritage.”DSCN6169

I wondered if the words I’d written in the journal would help sustain, in some small way, the richness of a sport that’s steeped in history and tradition…

“…The Peerless model, made in the 1930s and 40s, and originally selling for $35, was produced in various actions and lengths. The current value of a Heddon 35 Peerless in good condition is worth many times the original price…”

DSCN6180Centuries earlier, the poet William Blake suggested that a world can be seen in something as small as a grain of sand. I have no reason to doubt that’s possible, even today. If I could see a world reflected in a grain of sand, there’d be nobody big enough to dominate or control another human being; there’d be no one with an ego so inflated that he thinks he really owns a piece of the earth.

In this world we might destroy what’s under our control– through fear and anger and stupidity– but in that world, through our smallness, our diminutive nature, we have an an equal amount of power to do good. We could even, dare I say, live a life of peaceful coexistence with all others…DSCN6176

We are here to make some choices on the way we use the earth. For better or worse, we’ll have to pass on everything that’s saved. I could have a favorite fly rod packed inside my coffin (if I actually favored burial over cremation), but try as I might, the fishing would suck in Greenwood Cemetary.

We might guide the destiny of others, but mostly what we do is pass things on…

“…As of August 3, 2014 I have fished the rod in three states– New York, Pennsylvania DSCN6185and Virginia– and about a dozen rivers… the Genesee, Beaverkill, W. Branch Ausable, Willowemoc, Allegheny, Oswayo, Pine Creek, Kettle Creek, Mossy Creek, and others…”

It’s a good thing that another member of this conservation group will enjoy another year of casting with a split-cane bamboo rod.

Perhaps another member will appreciate the craft, the long hours, the weeks, spent building an instrument out of a “lovely reed.”

DSCN6172(Congratulations, friend John Pastorek, editor of The Slate Drake newsletter… This rod will be in good hands, casting over Pennsylvania and New England rivers throughout the coming year!)

The founding fathers of the Slate Run Sportsmen first used this rod, and formed, in 1954, a group dedicated to the preservation of public “fly-fishing only” on Slate Run.

We remember them, and we promote the preservation of a beautiful headwaters region.

We fish for wild trout in the cold waters of the back country. Streams and rivers join the sea but never come to an end.DSCN6187DSCN3922

 

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Good Morning, Steelhead (Wherever You Are)

At last, on the first full day of spring, a day that followed an unusually difficult winter in upstate New York, I was out there fishing and moving once again…I felt like a steelhead, perhaps, off on a “swim” from a frozen winter past to the start of a springtime near (appropriately enough) Springville, New York. DSCN6154

Fly-fishing has always seemed like more than any one event or experience for me. Somehow it has its own connections to my varied interests in the natural environment, ecology, philosophy, music, tradition…You might say that fishing has to do with trying to live a full life in the present moment. Keeping this in mind, I stepped into a feeder stream of Cattaraugus Creek in western New York where the season for steelhead is open and about to kick into high gear with the spring run of rainbow trout from Lake Erie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was happy as a bluesman sitting on top of the world, but that state of mind came only after I had put some less than cheerful aspects of the season on the back-burner.

A good friend of mine, from West Almond, passed away in January. Sean Phelan was my age, a fine craftsman, conservationist, and birder who, like other leaders, had come to the defense of Allegany County when this area was threatened by the placement of a nuclear waste dump. Sean was also my collaborator on several projects that ranged from the successful placement of Keeney Swamp (Allegany County) on New York Audubon’s list of Important Bird Areas to the production of a first-time checklist called “The Birds of Allegany County, New York.”

More recently (this week), I learned that another musical mentor died on March 13th.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Daevid Allen was a co-founder of Soft Machine and then the various incarnations of the band Gong. From the wake of the renowned Beat Poets, Allen became one of the true originals of psychedelic and progressive music through work in his bands and solo career. Over the past 45 years, I’ve spent so many hours listening to the likes of Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt that today I carried the fly rod like a sad song in the heart.

It had been a helluva winter, filled with more losses than I cared to experience, but such is life, especially with the onset of deep maturity.

DSCN6150That said, it was time to fish!

The morning snow had turned into light rain, but the stream, its banks choked with blocks of stranded ice, was flowing well, its water heavily stained but fishable.

It felt great to be walking and casting again. There were no other anglers on the stream, as far as I could tell, and I made good progress, casting my streamers across the creek and down, through the various stretches that suggested holding water or had been productive in the past.

Usually when there are no other anglers in view at a place and time like this, it means OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat the big fish probably aren’t around, and that looked to be the case today… So be it. I had heard that a few steelhead had been recently caught, but there were none in sight now.

The important thing was being out-of-doors, on the stream, with trout or no trout.

Although I covered only half of the two-mile distance I had hoped to fish if trout were evident, that was better than being stuck inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rain intensified by noon and then turned into heavy snow. It was excellent steelhead fishing weather, actually, but when the wind increased and brought on the chills and a consequent numbing of hands, it was time to pack it in.

With winter losses set aside for now, it was time to celebrate a new season. At the Zoar Valley Inn, a fine area roadhouse, I enjoyed a Southern Tier IPA. I gave a toast to the Equinox and to inspirations past and present.

Daevid Allen had returned to his beloved Planet Gong. Friend Sean would be with me on my birding expeditions. Spring, at least in the scientific sense, was here.

 

 

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The Ghost in the Thresher

Part 1/March 1st: Inspired by the new month and the slightly warmer temperatures (20s), I decided to climb Dryden Hill through the falling snow and see if I could reach the old tower behind the house once owned by Pete McKenna and then to locate the abandoned steam DSCN6048 thresher (ca. 1930s) that Pete said might still be found there. Since writing about Dan Redmond and his “custom threshing” days in my post called A Village Celebration, I’ve been interested in having a look at the old machinery.

It was an arduous 40-minute ascent along the old seasonal roadway to the summit of Dryden Hill, with no real track to ease my walk except for the paths made by the overpopulated deer. I saw only an occasional chickadee, a passing crow or raven, and a couple of ruffed grouse startled from the pine trees. Other than the stronger light produced by the late season, there was no sign of an approaching spring whatsoever.

DSCN6086The wind and snow were more intense along the summit, and I was able to advance but a short distance from the house toward the old tower site. The crusted snow was up to my knees with every step I took. Without snowshoes, I abandoned the effort and began my descent.

Did the old tower and abandoned thresher still remain near the woods beyond the pond, or not? Only a return walk, in warmer weather, might provide me with an answer. The ghost of a season had lured me up the hill, then vanished with a gust of wind.

Part 2/March 14: I had no fly-fishing this weekend but I tied a handful of “back in black”DSCN6093 stoneflies and Woolly Buggers in anticipation of the settling of streams and also, in a sense, to feed or nourish the first few sprouts of imminent spring. After that I made another slow climb of Dryden Hill.

Although the wet snow of the woodlands was still deep enough in places to engulf me to my kneecaps, there were patches of the summit fields where the snow DSCN6090had thoroughly melted and was now rushing downhill in a welter of chaotic rills. And small bands of migrating robins could be seen on those patches of brown frozen earth, hungry for the first slimy tubes of life to emerge there in the new year.

Reinforced by the taste of scarlet rosehips pulled from thorny bushes to savor in the desolate afternoon, I approached an old piece of farm machinery that I mistook initially for the steam-powered thresher once used by the likes of Greenwood farmer, Dan Redmond.

The mysterious old machine, reverting slowly to the folds of nature, wasn’t the grain DSCN6103separator that former property owner, Pete McKenna, had told me about. The thresher, a much larger machine, was over at the former site of a small communications tower.

Glancing toward the woods I saw the dark profile of a great reptilian machine. I was surprised that in all my years of hill wandering I had never really taken note of it.

Dan Redmond’s father and uncle had used a grain separator, a threshing machine, powered by a horse-drawn steam engine and a water tank. Three teams of horses were required to haul an entire threshing rig from farm to farm, the job of “custom threshing.”

DSCN6114Dan Redmond was 12 years-old, circa 1920, when he first started feeding grain into a thresher. He followed his father’s footsteps till about 1945 when the threshing era was replaced by mechanization symbolized by the more efficient combine.

Standing near the rusted but remarkably well-preserved threshing machine, I tried to imagine Redmond’s renowned style of hand-feeding the bundles of wheat (as recorded by his wife, Harriet, for the Greenwood Historical Society, 1990), but the best I could do was imagine a grain of wheat being separated from the chaff inside–

DSCN6120…being pulled and tossed by steel claws and rapidly moving arms, encountering a bar with teeth, hearing the rollers whir, feeling the quake and rapid descent into a slotted surface perforated with holes, getting shoved by a blast of air removing the chaff, and being lifted into a bucket, one more kernel added to the load…

Ah, the purity of grain! A new season threshed out by the wheel of time, a cosmos built out of chaos, the seeds of new life…

Like a handful of artificial flies.DSCN5972DSCN6119DSCN6117DSCN6132DSCN6128DSCN6134DSCN6125

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Bamboo Rods and Prayer Flags

It was a mild late-winter day. The morning sun shone brightly on the spring creek, and it felt good to be back on the water following weeks of northern hibernation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oddly enough, I was the only angler in view. Granted, this was a weekday morning in the winter season and I was merely passing through en route to Rochester, but I couldn’t recall ever having fished the stream without at least another angler or two in sight along the short stretch of public water.

Several robins greeted me along the stream’s edge. I hadn’t seen a robin since my previous visit here, about six weeks earlier. Were they feeding on the midge hatch hovering over the tressel pool and settling along the snowy banks? An occasional burst of cardinal and titmouse song, a swing of waterfowl above my head, reminded me that, despite the frozen aspect of the countryside, a new season was making shift.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ravages of winter lay close at hand. A shard of white plastic shone from the riffles. The torn carcass of a duck rotted in the clear spring water. Several small pools seemed shallower and more silted than on previous visits. And, perhaps most disconcerting, I was not seeing the wild trout that are usually apparent from the stream banks and low bridges.

In fact, with more than two hours of pleasant casting with the “Founders’ Rod”– the split-cane rod belonging to the Slate Run Sportsmen and on loan to me for a year (the term expiring later this month)– I didn’t see a single fish in the clear waters of this creek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI gave it my best shot while I had the opportunity. Carefully delivering a variety of spring creek imitations on a long, tapered leader (including scuds and tiny midge pupa), I did nothing in the way of a hook-up.

Why? Who knows. The fish were here before the big freeze-up late in January. The stream’s relatively constant year-round temperature prevents freezing in the coldest weather, but it doesn’t prevent variability in other factors.

Hopefully the trout were just hiding from the harsh glare of the sun, if that makes any sense, although I couldn’t even flush one from the usual cover. If the rare sun of early March was a shock to my winter-weary bones, then maybe it was all too much for trout, as well, accustomed to finning away in the clouds for weeks on end.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was starting to feel uneasy despite the beauty of the fly rod and the chance to be outside again. What if the major freeze on other upstate waters had forced the fish-eaters– the cormorants, the mergansers, etc.– to converge on the stream and… nah, I had to banish the thought for now… I’d check on it with professionals when I could.

Which brings me to the giddy subject of personal prayer.

I am not a praying guy. I don’t respond to Facebook whining about every personal hiccup with a statement like, “Prayers sent!” I don’t belong to any one religion but I’m quick to acknowledge a universal spirituality because I think that all living things, including the Earth itself, are linked by a common essence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t talk of God with a capital “G” because my only non-human co-pilot is the world of nature. I don’t necessarily equate God and Nature, as do many naturalists. What I mean by “nature” is the world before me here and now, the world-at-large, consisting of our own kind plus millions of other species.

So, en route to see my wife and daughter in Rochester prior to my wife’s surgery to have a tortured nerve along her spine repaired, I was “praying” in the only way that I knew how.

I was casting with a bamboo fly rod, looking for that rhythmic motion of the line that balances thought and feeling, movement of the arm and the sound of flowing water. At the risk of appearing over-indulgent, I compared the casting of a fly line to the waving of prayer flags on the tops of Asian ridges.

Yeah, the use of prayer flags is an ancient idea, as old, perhaps, as prayer itself. Good wishes are transmitted to the local winds and even to global tempests rather than to one god in particular. Traditional prayer flags are often banded together in the colors of blue, white, red, green, and yellow. Looking around me at the stream, I saw some corresponding elements: the sky, the snow, the chirping cardinal, the watercress, and the all-important sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo put it all together, I could inhale, back cast, pause, then exhale slowly with the forward cast. With the settling of the fly, I could give my humble best for the land and water and all who depend on them for sustenance.

I thought of my wife and her upcoming surgery (all went very well, by the way; she’ll soon be hiking with me to the streams again!). With all my little banners in the wind, I could even wish the trout good health… then wonder where in the hell they went to spend the late winter days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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