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Monday, April 23, 2018

Winter is Over

There are specific moments at each point in the year when you realize the season is changing from one to another.  Summer to Fall is usually stepping outside on a late August morning and feeling that sharp coolness in the air.  My 2018 Winter to Spring moment came yesterday- though we don't really have spring up here, more of a transition period from winter to summer. 

I spent the morning cleaning up after our local TU chapter's spring banquet the night before.  Banquets are stressful and a shit ton of work and I needed some time on the water so I hit a local trout stream.  My plan was to nymph a few of the medium fast runs and a short series of small pools for a few hours, and then head out to dinner at Gates with Janet, my wife and banquet planner, to celebrate making it through another banquet season together without getting divorced. 

I got out there and the road to the trail I planned on walking back to the river wasn't plowed yet.  No biggie, I'd just walk a little further than normal.  Halfway to the river, I stopped in the knee-deep snow, huffing and puffing, and stood in the shade to take a drink of water.  

It was a little over half a mile to the water, which felt like two miles in deep snow.  I paused at the bank, took my pack off and leaned it up against a tree, then waded into the river.

It was beautiful outside, hovering around 60-degrees with a light wind.  I took my hat off and wiped the sweat off of my forehead.  The breeze felt cool as it ran through the stubble of my shaved head.  I looked up into the unfathomably blue sky and closed my eyes while the sun evaporated the remaining beads of sweat from my skin.  I just left them closed while I soaked in the warmth and listened to the cold Pigeon River water flowing around my tired legs. 

All of the thoughts of banquets and work and taxes and other stresses of daily life disappeared.  In fact, all thoughts disappeared.  For a few short moments while I stood there with my eyes closed, whatever the part of my brain it is that processes thoughts was technically brain dead.  So brain dead, in fact, that I forgot about the deep snow that extended in all directions for miles, or even that it was still winter. 

It was confusing to open my eyes to the bright sun reflecting off the virgin white, footprintless snow.  Opening my eyes had me playing the role of that turtle sitting in the spring sun on a log who just had to jump into the water to hide from an approaching canoe.  But the good news was that winter was over. 

The water was a good six to twelve inches high and heavily stained with big pieces of sediment drifting down.  The catching was expectedly slow, but it felt right to be fishing.  I highsticked heavy nymphs along seams and through runs, switching flies a couple times before I had to hike back to the car to get home in time for dinner with Janet. 

I made much better time on the way out, walking in my original footsteps from the walk in which were already filled with a couple inches of water and slush.  Its good to be a fisherman again.

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