Monday, April 10, 2006


Already, the rod is prepared, cleaned and polished. The flies and jigs are in their boxes. The multicoloured sacks of spawn are quietly waiting in the freezer. The waders are by the door, as is the jacket and the vest with all its zippers and pouches and rattling containers. The hat is hanging on a peg.

Will Thursday be a great day? Unforgettable, humming even through the headstone once all these things have come to naught for me? The forecast looks promising, and the river is preparing the scene, lashing its eye-green ribbon through the countryside and under the boughs of trees. Tuning its orchestra of voices to rocks and ledges through riffles and runs.

I could go fishless. The steelhead may deem me, on that day, less than worthy & will not wish to play for me. They will see the long baton, the light note of the float as it rides the murmuring current, and yet find me wanting in prestige. No great music can come of him!

Luckily, not all symphonies or rock ballads or little country tunes need the great clash of bright cymbals, though beautifully striped with red and pink as these. The cardinal has a fine tenor, and the white breasted sparrow a soprano that embodies and instills ease. The river also needs only to be listened to.

And then when I come home, like Sam Gamgee, I will say "I'm back," but also - as I've already done now many times - read in my sons' smiles and my wife's, "I'm here."

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