Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fly Fishin - 3

            My love turned into an obsession of sorts.  I’d never found something I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed fly fishing.  I soon found myself wholly invested in it.  I bought great big waders to well-wade out into the river with.  I bought up all the magazines I could find that had anything to do with fly fishing.  I started traveling all around Montana, not to fish, but to find rare and exotic flies that people had tied all around the state, and my cabin started to have quite a collection.
            I even went out and bought some equipment that taught me how to tie, not that I ever got good at it.  But I learned to collect feathers and then fold them gently over the hook before picking my colored thread and tying it tightly, as if fusing feather and hook into one dangerous animal.
            And then every morning I’d take that short, exhilarating walk to the river bend.  Every morning I’d cast that same orange line out into the river.  And every morning my soul set itself free on those early caresses from that lonely wind.
            But I never caught anything.
            That didn’t matter though.  I never figured the point was to catch anything.  Fishing was the point.  Fishing was the thing that set me free, and if I would go further into it I’d say that it wasn’t just the fishing, but it was the nature of it itself.  It was something that I’d never done before.  It’s quite a unique thing to not just stand on the edge of the civilized world, but to be the edge of the civilized world.  To wander through a wilderness and find that there your soul finds solace and freedom.  It is there in that wild mystery that you find your home, amidst the fearsome and roaring of that peerless river.  In the hard sticky touch of tree bark, or the prickly touch of a pine.  Or in the harsh caress of that cold dry wind that carries the fresh smell of life.  Of a new morning, the promise of hope, new life, and day.  I never feel alone when I fish.
            It’s there that I feel part of something greater.
            I could go on for days about how much fishing means to me, but I should continue with the story, my old age is coming on and I feel like writing this story is one of the last things I do before I pass.  I am old, and my life has passed before my eyes like a dream.  Even now it seems that I don’t even believe that such things happened.  Who knows if anyone will even read this, but if they do I want them to know that I finally found peace.
            Enough of that, the story must go on.
            I would go out fishing every day, and usually when it got hotter I would go back inside and tie flies or take a nap, and go back out when it got a little bit cooler later at night.  One night I decided I would fish right up till it got dark, which I normally avoided doing because even though I feel at one with nature while I fish, I still realize that there are dangers in nature that I cannot afford to tempt.  There were many nights when I would hear scratching against the side of my cabin and look out to see the muscular hump of a grizzly wandering around my property or a moose.  Most of the time they were small, but one day I had just come in from fishing when an abnormally large grizzly wandered into the river.  I thought it odd as he stood in that strong current, it looked as though he too was trying to acquiesce what I had been doing out there.
            But then, he caught a fish.
            That being said it was odd for me to stay out that late.  But something on the wind held me that night.  I stood there so long that I wasn’t even fishing, I had just left my line to roam free downstream.  Riveted to that spot.  Wondering why I couldn’t move.  And then suddenly I saw it.
            Drifting slowly. Black.  Pushed roughly by the current.  Frozen, I waited to see what it was.  The river was carrying something towards me.  It was too wide to be a piece of driftwood, but it was motionless except for the push of the current.  Around my bend in the river the fast current slowed down and leveled out, except for one fast channel that cut a path near the far bank.  This usually meant that I could wade almost the entire breadth of the river without a struggle, but I never went into that channel.  It was fast, and it was more dangerous than the strongest bear.
            I heard once that a river never forgets; that its memory is longer than time itself.  Some people would say what happened that day was chance, but I loved my river, and I feel like that day it returned some of my love.  Because that day
            I caught something.
            As the black motionless mass neared me, I peered through the fading twilight and saw that it was human.  Just like that I snapped into action and rushed out to the far end of the current.  And the river led the blob to me.  It popped out of the current just enough for me to grab it and pull it with all my might.  The mass was surprisingly light, and I realized it was a girl, probably still in her teens, but still relatively light even for an old geezer like me.  I gently extracted her from the waves and pulled her onto shore.  Her face was pale, soaked, and cold, but it wasn’t wrinkly yet.  She hadn’t been in the water for too long.  I tried to remember the few things I had seen regarding CPR over the years, and fortunately, I remembered just enough.  I pushed her onto her side and hit her back.  I checked her pulse, and found that she was still alive.  I rushed to a phone to dial for help, but I knew that since it was Montana it could be a long time before the ambulance would be able to get there.  So I did what I’d seen on so many training videos I started to do chest compressions.

            And it worked.

Chapter II         Chapter IV

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