Creak of beech bough, crack of ice. No eagle sharp-eyed for a fish, no wild duck drifting on the flow. So, what is here? The trout are unobtainable, the sun glimmers faintly in the canopy, the promise of a snowstorm for the night. There’s a patchwork green– the stiff fern by a stump, the skunk cabbage rising over crystalline seeps.
Inside the pointed cabbage heads– a fire. A cold Catskill Mountains night, late 19th-century. A lonely angler sitting by the hearth, with pen to paper, scratching out another of his “Little Talks.” Theodore Gordon rambles conversationally, confiding, questioning, provoking one more issue of his day– for trout, for angler, for himself. By morning, his successes and failures will invite him to another round of tying artificial flies, their beauty resonating through the century that follows.
Skunk cabbage holds one particle of sun. It flourishes and greens a Catskill riverside, a woodstove meditation, streams that flow through any healthy land. The hiker pauses by a wild plant near the Genesee. The snow will come, the warmth remain.