|The Rouge River, A Fly and Me
By Gideon McCain
As I begin my day, I wander down to the
waters edge of the Rouge River, its tender song reminds me of a quieter, gentler time.
Memories of my grandfather, softly grasping my hand, staring out over the racing waters,
teaching me to see not only with my eyes, but also with my ears, heart and soul. I
sheepishly wade into the cool water, it is chilly, yet, somehow soothing. I close my eyes
and face the rising sun, it warms me like a lovers kiss on the nape of my neck.
To my right I hear a familiar splash and
the reason I have come to this piece of paradise. I am here to fish, fly fish to be exact.
I watch intently as another one of these beautiful creatures jumps, arcs and twists with
the agility of an Olympic diver. The sun reflects off of its scaled body, shining with the
brilliance and presentation of a new engagement ring.
I am here for the sport of it; the
challenge and surroundings are good for the soul. With fly rod in hand, I wade out waist
deep into the river. I feel the strong current tugging at my waders like an excited five
year old in a toy store. I turn and wave to my soulmate, she is perched high up on the
riverbank, steel blue eyes fixed on me, as she is fully aware of my innate ability to get
into precarious situations without much effort. I am still not certain if it was fate or
divine intervention that the Gods in their infinite wisdom, or incredible sense of humor,
decided to create my soulmate in the form of a fifty-five pound Siberian Husky.
Nonetheless she has been the best companion I could have ever wished for.
I survey my surroundings; there is only
one other person in my vicinity. An older man, perhaps thirty or forty yards to my right.
Outfitted in the well-worn paraphernalia of his chosen sport. Tufts of bright white hair
protruding from underneath a baseball cap, which is most likely hiding an area of scalp
that barely has a memory of what hair used to feel like. His face is gentle and kind,
wrinkles carved deep into his flesh, his skin the color and texture of a well-oiled
catchers mitt. His features reveal a hard life, yet his smile lines and calm demeanor lead
one to believe he is content with the hand life has dealt him. We acknowledge one another
with what is known in these parts as the fishermans nod.
I begin casting my fly upriver and allow
it to float downstream. Each cast is handled with the meticulousness and precision of a
gifted surgeon, cutting the air and hitting its mark with bullet like accuracy, whoosh,
zzzzt, whoosh, zzzzt, and so on. Reminiscent of Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, with
two exceptions, first, I look more like Norm from Cheers than I do Mr. Pitt, and
second, my fly casting prowess resembles that of a man deep in the throws of a grand-mal
seizure, much to the delight of the old man, whose fluid motion and command of the art,
certainly could have him publishing videos on the subject. It is hard to conceal mirth
when laugh lines are so deeply engraved into ones face. But a least he tried. I even
thought I heard Taylor, my so-called soulmate, let out a bit of a guffaw, either her, or
one of the fish. I continued on with my quest for excellence in fly-fishing for the better
part of an hour, when all of a sudden, the old man spoke to me. Whether out of pity or
concern that he might break a rib containing his laughter. He then bestowed these words of
wisdom on me, "Son" he said, and then paused, like he could have ever given
birth to someone as inept at fly fishing as me, I gather it was a term of endearment.
"Son" he repeated, "you know you havent had a fly on your line for,
going on almost an hour, you snapped it off on the second or third cast. His
smile lit up his face like a beacon on a lighthouse and we both let out a roar of laughter
that echoed up the canyon walls, loud enough to send bears into early hibernation. I
smiled back and winked at him, and said, "When youre as good as I am you
dont need a fly!" The laughter could be heard as far away as Medford. I
continued to cast without the fly. Life is good.
© Gideon McCain 2002