Monday, August 22, 2011

With Thanks; or, When Streams Remember.

I've always had a hard time accepting generous gifts. It's not that they aren't appreciated, for they are. But they set my soul slightly off-at-ease, these things unearned. And also things expected, such as, it's your birthday, and you can not only cry if you want to, but can also bet on receiving some sort of acknowledgement of the day. (The best nods of the head are handmade -- or books, or the ones that show up randomly in the mailbox....days late, or early).

And at a high country trout stream, you can bet on trout -- and lots of them. This too, sets me slightly off-at-ease. It's a generous gift. In the abstract, fishing just shouldn't work. But it does, and I'll never get used to that.

I'll never get used to catching trout well into the double digits in one day either. It's like that feeling of sneaking into the refrigerator (when you're supposed to be readying for bed) and eating ice cream by spoonfuls (quick spoonfuls) out of the carton until your mother catches you. And sometimes at these backcountry streams, I feel like a moss-haired-mother is going to bark out of the pines....stop!

My hands feel too rich. There's chocolate rimming my mouth...

But that, in fact, is how I felt on my first overnight backcountry fishing trip. Laying in the tent that night I felt as if I'd unknowingly taken an advance. Spent. And I worried. I might never catch another trout again...

The next morning though, Jay wanted to throw just a few more casts. Just one more fish, he said. He hadn't yet caught the size of cutthroats he remembered this lake and stream holding thirteen years ago. Must have been a winter kill. I got the feeling that he needed to catch one like he remembered, for the sake of that time. So I grabbed my rod, rigged with a dry, and we took turns. They were hungry for an early breakfast, those brookies, and they rose to tell us so.

Then came Jay's turn again -- one of the last, last casts. He headed for a small hole. Small, but deep. He placed the cast. Perfectly. The dry fly swirled in an eddy, and a large cutt rose to greet his dry. Good morning. There wasn't the usual flash -- he took his time about it (maybe he was a little sleepy too) -- but didn't second guess his choice. He wanted that fly. And in timeless motion, he opened his mouth, broke the surface, ate the dry...


This, was the trout Jay had remembered -- the one he'd been waiting for. The one who'd called him back up the mountain and out for one last cast, perhaps.

Now, while I may be uncomfortable with generosity towards myself, I'm greatly at ease watching others receive such. And I loved watching Jay catch that trout, being given that gift again, after thirteen years. Almost identical too, he said, thankfulness watering his eyes with a mist only years can bring.

I'd like to think the stream remembered. Yes, I'm sure it did.


And even more than watching the giving, I loved watching the gift being taken back...

38 comments:

  1. Nice post, that last fish is beautiful.

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  2. The river gives in interesting ways. Sometimes freely, and sometimes not at all. In appreciating such gifts, we all receive in one way or another.

    I feel the same guilt some days, funny how that happens :-)

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  3. Erin, Jay,
    You both know the meaning of real fishing.
    A small mountain stream of exceptional beauty, a perfect cast, and the reward of a wild cutt.

    Thank you both for showing us this.

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  4. Erin
    In the balance of nature drought is often followed by deluge. The frequent stinginess of the river makes the infrequent gifts all the more precious. As always...an enjoyable read.

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  5. Great insight Erin. This was made all the more enjoyable for knowing Jay. The little boy excitement in his eyes says it all...almost. Then I'm sure there was a little bit of Jay humor as well.

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  6. NE lakes are stingy. No give. Glad the moss-haired-mother hasn't put a stop to your fun there.
    bhive

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  7. Erin: fish & fishing, timeless gifts ~ I like that...

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  8. Kev - Thanks, and it sure was! And, a surprise given the hole it was pulled from...

    Sanders - It is funny. Ironically funny. And then some days, all I want is to feel that guilt again! ;)

    Brk Trt - Thank you for your words...and I think that learning fishing's meaning is a life-long journey...

    John - You said that perfectly. Thank you...

    John - Thanks!

    Cofisher - Little boy excitement, yes. But more of old man wisdom than humor, that day...

    bhive - sigh....you probably still don't believe me there are actually trout in Colorado.... ;)

    Doug - I like it too, and I'm eternally thankful for them.

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  9. "Never look a gift horse in the mouth" Erin.

    Yep, you have caught a good bag full today but tomorrow............

    That's a different story LOL

    As lovely as ever, a pleasure to read.

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  10. Tom - That's right, or else you know how old the horse is! ;) Many thanks, for reading!

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  11. Nice post! Those fish and scenery are beautiful.

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  12. George - A friend of mine says that he likes trout "because of where they live." :)

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  13. Thanks, Herringbone! And they totally have to be quick! :)

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  14. Good, good Stuff! I'd love to make that trip!

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  15. Kevin - Thanks, and If you're ever planning a trip to Colorado, let me know...I'll give you directions!

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  16. The last trout, has a nice colours, really flashy!
    Good post, grettings.

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  17. Erin,

    I know that feeling. Its too good and you fear it will never be this good again, then it is and you get the feeling all over again. The best advice is to "live in the moment and enjoy what's happening."

    Also, I see from the picture on Jay's web site, The Vice of Erin Block, that you've ventured into the dark side. Don't you know that soft hackles and wet flies don't catch trout; don't even bother.

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  18. Erin

    I'll take you up on that offer someday!
    I've fished the frying Pan above Basalt it was a great trip!

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  19. Carlos - Thank you! His colors were magnificent.

    Grizzly - That's good advice...I'll remember! And yes, Jay is corrupting me and I've developed an unhealthy obsession with soft hackles...

    Kevin - Great! And I've yet to make it out to the Frying Pan...

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  20. As always beautiful streeams, and awesome trout. I wish I was there with you guys.

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  21. Super foto ! Super rainbow trout !!

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  22. Love this and the other view of Jay's pleasure.The "moss haired mother" smiled that day!

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  23. Thanks, Bill! We live in a beautiful place indeed...

    Tomek - Super thanks! :)

    Hart - I hope she did...and thanks!

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  24. 2 things here. I son't think the moss haired woman could stop the trout catching. Even if she was really stern about it. Secondly, were you fishing on Tuesday? If not, you have a fishing double.

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  25. Nerd ;) - oh, I don't know, "She" can be perty fierce. And nope, not on Tuesday....I have a double! Freaky!

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  26. Oh believe me, it was strange. I almost said hello. I'm glad I didn't. Well... kinda.

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  27. Just returned from a trip to Wyoming (Heart Mountain WW II came site/museum dedication) and fishing up through Shoshone, YNP, Henry's Fork where's my stick o' dynamite, the Mad, much history and a lot of fish. Missed your blog, was instead in receipt of mine own pleasures, wading, sniffing, gazing at strata, considering super volcanoes, mortality. Bison pelvis I find onstream goes onto branch for next hiker to consider. Storm rolls onto geysers, Yellowstone's a mixed up kid and I get tremendous pics.

    Love that little stream you show. Fish I can relate to, painted wild, cold to the touch. No one nearby, calling Hey bear, I'm here! Hey bear. On way home in SLC guys says Yeah, there was another in Yellowstone. Ignorance is wonderful in hindsight.

    Mountain trout. Released. Remembered.

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  28. Darrell - Glad you made it out of bear country safe...and with your own stories to tell. "Bison pelvis I find onstream goes onto branch for next hiker to consider." I like that. Maybe that will be in someone else's story someday.

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  29. Someday thou art destined for a Saul of Tarsus moment -- wazzah! -- and then you shall forever wield the split bamboo flyrod.

    Lemme know when you are on the road.

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  30. Darrell - Ha! Indeed I have been told recently that I should try my hand at building, and get a blank. I suppose that's one foot on the road, eh?

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  31. One foot on the road to the

    DUPONT FACTORY ON THREE MILE ISLAND.

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  32. I'm a giver, receiving makes me feel weird, like I now owe them something. I love the look on someone's face when they receive something unexpectedly though. It's a good feeling.

    I hadn't thought of fish as a present...new thought to tumble around in my head now.

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  33. Well Red, tumble about it, but don't let it make you feel guilty for receiving fish. :)

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  34. Oh no, I couldn't feel guilty about that seeing as how I give them right back. :)

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