I was situated comfortably on the stream again. I was casting streamers with the new split-cane rod until the stonefly hatch informed me that a nymph or dry fly might be interesting. To be out in the warm spring air was joyful, following a long and arduous winter. Nature seemed more accommodating now, its name allied closely with the Latin word natura, meaning “to be born.”
Casting an artificial fly while trying to acknowledge the emergent life around me was a fascinating experiment, stimulating but only a partial success. The sun was brighter but the passing clouds reminded me of the wind plus an urgency expressed by the season’s first frogs, the first insects and the first songs of arriving birds. I tried to absorb them through my meditation with design– reflections that I might attempt to share through writing.
Standing in the stream at wood’s edge, I was interrupted by a quiet “Hello” from someone approaching through the alders. A uniformed official, a game warden, apologized for the breach of silence, saying, “I didn’t want to scare you and make you fall in the river. How’s it going?” I looked up at the warden and explained that it was good to be fishing once again despite the rising wind that made the effort challenging. I told him that I hooked and lost a nice trout on a streamer, and now, with stoneflies hatching and a couple of rise forms at the surface, I was ready to begin my dry fly season.
Oh, and by the way, would you care to inspect my fishing license? “Sure, just turn a bit so I can see your tag. Thanks.” The big license on my back, with 2019 printed boldly on yellow plastic, did the trick. I thanked the man for doing his job out here in Penn’s Woods and, before long, the honey-colored bamboo was bending admirably, pulsing with a heavy rainbow that had taken a drifting Black Stonefly on the surface.
I guess I’ve never been a warden’s worry. In fact, I’ve always been thankful that, in these days of environmental deregulation and diminishing custodial manpower, folks are out occasionally observing our behavior with the wildlife. Speaking with the warden, I was pulled in from my springtime reveries to an edge-land as firm as the riverbed. There was a balance there, of sorts, a fortification between our own kind and the natural environment.
Standing in the river at the forest’s edge, I was glad to be removed from modern life, if only for several hours. The Machine World was another Moloch, devouring individuality and personal freedom, sacrifice in the name of pure efficiency. But to fish alone, or with a kindred spirit, in the warm winds of the Allegheny foothills was to sense a true resistance to society’s dominion. A simple act, this fishing, and yet…
The strength and marrow that is Nature can be found in any earthen framework for the viewing and expenditure of time. Here, the hills and river valley, the cold flowing water in natura, bring the joy and comfort of renewal.