I was standing at the river in the darkened noon hour. A first snow flurry drifted across the pool. The rod guides had no ice.
Their words inspired me to wade out slowly, to draw my breath and make a back-cast, then to exhale with the forward delivery of the fly.
Their words resonated, brought me out of winter meditation, my attempt to blend in with the stream’s environment. Their words pulled me from the water at my knees and got me floating on the moment like a plastic bobber on a lake. I had never been good at meditation, though I once found it useful to closely watch my breath (proverbial contemplation of the navel) and occasionally tried to shape the practice to my needs.
When I was young I dabbled for a short time with the fashionable yoga of the day and worked at contorting my back and ankles in the lotus position. I never managed to break through the thick cellular wall separating me from universal bliss– or if I did, it was nothing to write home about. I failed to pursue the roles of sage and seeker. Eastern philosophy was a fine distraction through my college years, but a sense of absolutism lurked in its shadows like a zealot with horns. And what, pay good money for a Transcendental Meditation instructor? I had better uses for that rare dollar bill.
The hunter’s words brought me to the here and now, dissipating the chill and dampness. They indicated surprise, but little more. Perhaps they were a mantra that the hunters left behind, before motoring through the woodsy cosmos.
Their words sounded strange, but why? Granted, I was out fishing, not hunting in a field or sitting in a stadium. But is fishing all that different? Their words almost seemed poetic.
A seed of light flared and grew, warming the December fisherman. I’d waited too many days to get back on the stream. Their words held the songs of springtime in their syllables. For a minute I resumed my angling meditation.
It was getting cold. I made a long cast to the head of the pool and watched the point where the line and leader meet. I picked up the gathering line and saw a rainbow just ahead– before the fly came to the fish’s gaze.
The trout flicked to its side. I raised the rod, and the fish fought back. It paused in the cold air for a photograph, then swam back to the depths.
Their words echoed in my head–