December Rain

The long awaited rains were falling. I was on the upper river at noon, in time for the rain toat rest finally get serious. I waited in the car for five minutes to see if it would ease a little or if I would have to make a disappointing turn around for home. The sun made an unexpected appearance then, a feeble nod from the hilltop clouds, enough for me to morph into angler mode and press for the water.

Casting easily with the bamboo rod, I felt the water push against me, rising slowly and gaining a bit of color from the soil. I pretended I was the last man out– the last of the die-hard anglers at the tail end of a season. It would rain throughout my hours on the river, a pleasant rain giving comfort as I stood in protective clothing, a friendly rain long awaited by farmers, anglers and trout.

the runIn light of the horrific tragedy that occurred recently at an elementary school in Connecticut, I was glad to be wading around with just my wayward thoughts. Occasionally I would get a hook-up from a rainbow trout, usually as the fly came drifting close to where I stood. A 15-inch rainbow, fighting off the pressure and attempting to gain small comfort in the bankside rocks, can quickly bring you back to your time and place. Too soon, then, I’d return to my thoughts about current events and to sudden media concerns like “gun control” and “mental health.”

To fish and meditate simultaneously is like walking and chewing gum. You can dorainbow them both together as long as you don’t stop to analyze and separate them. When you pause to consider what you’re doing, you want to oversimplify the complex issues at hand. At least I do. So I think, gun control. I have that.

I control my actions with a minimum of state and federal laws to assist me. I can hunt small game or nuisance animals with a single shot or repeating scattergun, or with a .22 rifle.  I keep the guns on a rack in my bedroom. I load them out of doors and I empty them before I walk inside. I don’t need the popular assault rifle for anything.

rainbow troutI do not think I’m any better than the gun enthusiasts in saying that assault weapons have virtually no place in a sane society. Okay, some folks say they “feel good” on the target range, like a custom bamboo rod “feels good” on the stream, but the average cane lover would never club a fish or a human being to death with such a rod if he suddenly went off his rocker when getting “skunked” or taunted.

I am no better than anyone when I say that the citizens of a nation that chooses to own assault weaponry as a condition of its freedom is not a nation that is free. In my opinion, such a nation is ruled by fear and hatred. I don’t need artillery of the sort in my house because the local woodchucks and the whitetail deer (if I ever chose to hunt them) seldom get so vicious or revengeful on our kind that from hasui,saishoine templea military gun is necessary.

I do not believe that the federal government will ever come and take my guns away. It has far more sophisticated ways of squashing me if and when it wants. As for Second Amendment rights– they’re one thing; weapons of war and hatred have always been another.

Rain continued falling intermittently. I moved along the stream, enjoying the slow rhythms of the cast. Another rainbow took the bottom-bouncing fly and a minute later I released it following a quick press on the camera. The mysteries of trout passed through the filter of my senses. And I thought of mental health.

detail from hasui, saioshoine templeThe term “mental health” has been broadcast commonly in the news of recent days. Do I have my share of it? Arguably so. I’m pleased that my life addictions are to words and music and the arts, to streams and trout and birds and natural locations rather than to things like television, golf, NASCAR and video games, but that’s just me. And I am married to a mental health therapist, which is helpful for a codger like myself. Along a similar line of soul alliance, I should hasten to reveal one more ingredient on the plus side of my so-called mental health… When I make my last bed on this vale of tears and happiness that we call the Earth, I’m fairly certain I’ll be sharing it with the Mother of all Life.

When the rains of mid-December finally got me chilled, I reeled up the line and headed back to the car. There was sadness in this corner of the world but I revelled in the promise that the Winter Solstice would quickly arrive. The old year was eroding on the banks of time, and soon the rain would turn into snow.young river

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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4 Responses to December Rain

  1. Howard Kogan says:

    Very well said! Thank you!

  2. Howard,
    Always welcome! Hope your solstice is an interesting experience and your holidays excellent.

  3. Mel says:

    Walt, it is like your inside my mind! I could not have made the statements any better than you have so I will defer others to your blog to read this great post. Happy Holidays, and, more happy hookups in 2013.

    • Mel, That’s much appreciated! We’re dealing with complex issues here and I wanted to simplify them in as few words as possible. Straightforward, and honest. Enjoy these holidays, and I hope you find great angling in the new year.

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