News of a massacre in a New England elementary school shocked many parts of the human world. As someone with about 15 years of teaching at the elementary and middle school levels, as one who’s participated in annual lock-down drills with students, I should have an understanding of what went wrong at the Newtown, CT elementary school, but I can’t get my head around the tragedy there. I can only sympathize with the families of the victims, and wish that the madness of this world was less violent than it is.
I walked into the cold December river. Hearing the splash of water and a distant raven’s craaw!, I paraphrased four lines from Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow”: …If I had wings and I could fly/ I know where I would go/ But right now I’ll just stand here so distractedly/ And watch the river flow…”
To fly fish Saturday on the river I tried to focus on the dark deep currents. There is comfort in such places but it’s difficult to hold. An angler from Syracuse, fishing the opposite bank, approached me from across the river and said, “I didn’t expect to find anyone fishing here today!” Perhaps he too had been called by the healing powers at the wild heart of a river.
I drove downstream several miles and parked by a quiet bridge. I entered the woods for a short distance, stepped out to an opening and slid down a bank to the water. I waded into a slough with a bottom slippery as clay. Clambering out to a small island of the river, I began to wonder if I was turning into a beaver. If so, I was hefty enough to be worth about $35 to the local trapper. But when I finally entered the main channel again, my feet were in shoes and the fur of my imagination had been cut away and dried…
A rise form bulged just beyond the middle of a pool. Converting my leader to accommodate wet flies rather than streamers, I thought about the anguish and pain caused by a soul turned evil in the winter light, but my thoughts were pale and fleeting. I loaded up the line and its payload of tandem flies. I studied the seam of river current where the fast waters and the slow intermingle. The flies dropped, as directed.