Around here, it happens every August 27th, give or take a day. The barn swallows leave the site where they have been “our birds” since the end of April. On a late summer
morning, the air above the old barn resonates with difference. It’s no longer stitched together by the zigzag flight of swallows, the graceful birds that nested on the beams and chittered through the sky. They’re gone– again, migration to South America is calling.
This year I refuse to be saddened by the birds’ departure. Summer is ending; yeah I’ve got to slowly change my clothes, toss aside the trout bum rags and poet’s threads. I’ve got to find the new shirts of a working stiff, but I don’t care… Not much.
I’ll procrastinate on those odd jobs that the season still requires doing. I’ll practice the art of “turning back the clock,” despite the probability of failure. I will stay alive, awake to the moment, even if my head is turned around and screwed down loosely.
I’ll start today. I’ll go to the river when the sun grows cool. I’ll cast the wet-fly leader and experiment with three flies simultaneously, the way the old-timers used to fish when they were serious about finding dinner. Cahill for a point fly, Pheasant-tail for mid, a Black Ant for the hand… Why not. I’m an old-timer, too, but fish go back to the water.
When the swallows fly, I’ll write a poem and think of Robert Frost. The space the swallows leave will be like paper– blank and silent, with a set of artificial flies, perhaps, cast forward to a riffle.
Frost said, poetry creates a “stay against confusion.” I could use a stay like that (my wife, the therapist, would tell you). Yeah, I’ll write a poem and build it word by word, like stone on stone. I’ll hold off the mean world with a wall that’s built around my place.
When I’m at the river, why not fish with dries? The trout will probably rise to an Ant, a Sulphur, or a Drake. Why not cast what’s customary for late summer? Why go against the current with those wets?
Maybe it’s a “momentary lapse of reason,” as the title of a Pink Floyd/David Gilmour album comes to mind… Forget about the poem I’ll write! Forget about my little stay. Let it all collapse and turn away! Let my thoughts fly with the swallows that are gone…
I’ll fish with those wets; I’ll give ’em a try, even if the trout prefer to smack the surface for a Sulphur or a Drake. (Sure, I’ll go back to dries if the wet flies are ignored; I’m not a masochist, really).