When I awoke, I was standing on the stream bank with a 3wt in my hand and something shaking the end of the line. Realizing it was a fish, I land the beautiful ten inch brown trout. I kneel down to release her back into the water and watch the amber gem swim away.
Standing, I look around and am surprised by surroundings. A trout stream is a familiar place in and of itself, but above the high water mark, it was all new. Suddenly, behind me, a voice from the bridge over the stream yelled down to me, “holly crap, you caught a fish!” “I’d never seen any fish in this stream, I’ve been coming here for years!”
My cognitive abilities and speech forming capacity at that moment of being forced into a social interaction with another human being were lacking and I could only utter, “I did.”
That moment my wife walks up to the bridge in amazement as the gentleman on the bridge tells her that I had caught a fish, “A brown” I grunted.
Seeing my wife sharpens the focus and I realize I am back to where I need to be and what I do. The two things I’m most passionate about appear in quick succession…with an astonished bystander thrown in.
I remember now, how I got here. Just a year ago, on a beautiful, blue bird sky May morning, less than a half hour after walking into the office, I’m walking back out to my jeep, a manilla envelope and belongings in my hands and the summer off. This set Cass and I on a whirlwind of emotions and experiences that summer leading us to Michigan to new opportunities and a great way of life we could not have dreamed of before that envelope was placed in my hand. So ended my endeavor to make corporate fly fishing suck a little less.
A flood of memories from the previous few years flood into my mind, the moments where I was actually present in the moment: our wedding at the best restaurant in Pittsburgh, asking Cass to marry me along a private stretch of the Musselshell in Montana, riding down the mountain toward Seneca rocks, Dolly Sods, the bald eagles over the Delaware river, bringing home Utley from the breeder, hanging out with my niece and nephews, my mom and Dad “speeding” off in my Dad’s Model A, making Izaacs open back up in Craig that night, getting the CB750 running and riding, morning waking up in tents. It’s a short list from too many years I let get away.
It takes something that lives in water sometime to bring you back to earth. It helps when that fish in the footsteps of your heroes, Hemingway, McGuane and Harrison may have fished…It’s great to be back in the moment.
Cass is standing next to me now, shaking my shoulder, “hey, are you still going to fish, or what?” I make the most contented half-assed casts of my life…
He was growing into middle age…
and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue.
He installed himself in a rocking chair…
and smoked a cigar down in the evenings…
as his wife wiped her pink hands
on an apron…
and reported happily
on their two Brittanys.