Following a full week of hiking, birding, and visiting such places as the Genesee River Trail (WAG Trail, NY), the Golden Eagle Trail (PA), and the coastal trails of Block Island (RI), it was good to return from these rewarding visitations and to experience, again, the quiet silver streams of home…
The Incompleat Angler lost his fishing licenses again, the second time in a year. A gust of wind reopened the plastic tag with licenses attached to his grimy vest. Gone with the wind! A reprise of a Yellowstone experience on the Madison in 2020. Well, the slow learner finally got it this time around. Other than a hand net, there would be no more attachments at the rear end of his fishing vest! He would keep the damn papers in his wallet snug against his denim jeans. With enough real problems in the world, there was no need to top them with an irritation caused by faulty mental wiring.
Nonetheless, there would always be some room left over for the stresses caused by everyday angling. He might wonder if he has the right fly pattern for this time and place. He might question whether a feeling of inadequacy is actual or imagined. Fortunately, incompleteness has a sort of beauty when it’s taken to the trout stream. There the angler understands the therapeutic value of his quest and simply fishes and… remembers to forget.
He enjoys the quiet silver streams of May, the wild sparkle of the Asaph and the big cold water of the neighboring Pine Creek Gorge. He revisits the Sunken Branch and the brookie waters of the Susquehannock State Forest near his home. He looks for the hidden trout and their subtle beauty– for a sign that he and they exist together in his understanding.
He can laugh at the great success that Izaak Walton had, the author who could simply fish and share enjoyment of the world in troubled times. Walton might have been “compleat” but he fished the Itchen with a garden worm, or with a frog as loveable and respected as his love for King and God. The singing milkmaids of his famous narrative are a balm to the anxiety of any age– or a bomb to the modern sentiments of any rambler here or there.
The incompleat one has to envy Walton’s “study to be quiet.” Friend Charles Cotton would eventually assist old Izaak with an explanation of The 12 Essential Artificial Flies, but only for a late edition of the book. For now it was enough to simply cast and to enjoy.
The quiet silver streams of May were purling toward a distant bend. Their insistence lapped against his waders like the certainty of small birds calling from the banks.