“He not busy being born is busy dying.“– Bob Dylan
The early spring day started off rainy and then turned partly sunny, all the while punctuated by heavy winds. A good day to fly-fish? Following a winter of currents under ice, I wasn’t being choosy. Also I’d been wrestling with some beautiful but stupid dreams of late, for which there was nothing but fishing (and possibly some serious drinking) on order to clear the mess. So I headed to the river for a long-awaited reunion.
My two hours of casting and battling the blasts of wind were all I needed. That said, the river was in lovely shape considering the recent rains and snow-melt. The river’s flow was normal for the season and only somewhat cloudy. With just the first or second cast of the little 5-weight fiberglass rod, I got a strike from a rainbow trout. I knew then that the special regulations water had been recently stocked.
I fished the wind-blown pool, with its 100-foot riffle and deep undercut bank, and managed to catch and return a baker’s dozen of rainbow trout, mostly standard hatchery fish. That may sound like an impressive haul for northern PA on a cold day in March, but really it isn’t (sorry Mark Twain, sometimes fellas do tell the truth). These were hatchery trout. I stumbled on easy pickings for a deep-drifting fly, and I was thankful for the action.
The fish were fun and good practice for the upcoming season. Catching them was like sighting the first arrivals of birds this day: a migrant bluebird, a killdeer or two, a song sparrow uttering the first musical phrases of spring… They helped out a guy still trying to be fully born, to be educated in the ways of Earth. The wind might have been cold and fierce, but when it calmed on several occasions, the sun shone warmly and was much appreciated.
At other times I turned my face to the quiet willows and thought, okay, Ma… I’m only living. Isn’t this all about being free– in as much as I, or you, or anyone, can be free in the restrictive and conformist atmospheres of politics and economics? It’s about being free to do just this, to fish when I want to fish, to open up my senses to a fresh new day.
Recently I read the results of a survey of 2,200 adults conducted by the National Science Foundation in 2012. The results shouldn’t have been shocking, but they were. In answer to one of the questions, “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?”, only 25% of the surveyed answered correctly. Wow. Don’t we all get similar shocks all the time? I don’t know about you folks, but when piles of such societal debris accumulate deeply, I’ve got to shake ’em off like water from a dog.
I fish at the first of spring and let the winds sweep off the mental decks. I look up and know, as Copernicus knew so long ago, that our planet orbits the star, and damn it all, we are small, but beautiful when we aren’t being stupid.
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to…