The first snow of the season arrived overnight. In honor of the occasion I share with you this morning’s poem. Continue reading
The fish know what I’m up to
You can just tell
By the way they jump
Where I haven’t cast
And rise towards my fly
Just to dive away again
At the last moment
I can almost hear him,
That big trout at river’s bend,
Laughing as he splashes
As I un-tangle my line
From the pine behind me
We play, he and I,
Or should I say
As he teaches me
Fishing isn’t all about catching
It’s about being present and learning
It’s time to move on
I doff my cap
A bow of respect
To today’s teacher
Yesterday, my wife and I spent the afternoon along a beautiful river just south of our home. The Fall River is a a short river, only about 10 miles from where several springs gush out of the ground forming the headwaters of the river to where it joins the Deschutes river in it’s flow towards the Columbia, and finally the Pacific Ocean.
After a picnic lunch next to the falls, I set up my fly rod and walked off along the bank for a bit of fly fishing while Maurie had some quiet time for art and to film some video for her website and YouTube Channel.
I’ve not fly fished much before. In fact, I can count the number of times that I have on one hand. The fly rod and reel were left for me by my Dad after a visit this summer. The two hours I spent fishing yesterday were a learning experience.
The first few spots I stopped and cast out were quiet sections of river with nice gravel beds underneath and a few shady overhangs on the far bank. Good spots for trout to rest out of the sun on this hot day. But there was no activity that I could see at all. So in each I spent some time casting out and letting my fly drift only to retrieve it and cast again. After 10 to 15 minutes of this, I’d move along to another spot.
Finally, I came to a large bend in the river and saw a fish jump. I couldn’t get a sense of its size, but the splash was certainly noticeable. A good sign, so I put down my bag and my fleece shirt and cast into the middle of the disappearing rings, only to see it jump further downstream, and on the other side of a log snag.
I spent about 45 minutes in this spot, working a section of river bank about 50 feet long. The trout would jump occasionally far away from where I had my fly, and I’d hurry to cast out where he was, only to find he’d moved. A couple of times, I could see him rising in the clear water towards my fly, only to push at it with his nose as if to say “you expect me to bite on THIS?!?” and dive away.
When I would manage to snag my fly and line up in a pine tree behind me, I would hear him jumping and splashing as I worked to free them so I could go back to fishing.
As I fished this river bend, I got to watching how my fly moved in the water. How the fish responded to where I placed it relative to where he was, and how it moved towards him. I also got a few glimpses at the flies (real) that he was feeding on, and how they differed from many of the flies in my grandfather’s old fly book.
When he made it clear that our lesson was done, I had so much respect for this fish, and the lessons he was trying to give to me, that I took a page from my time taking Karate in university. I took off my cap and gave a bow to my teacher for the day and thanked him for the lesson.
I moved up the river and put his lessons to good use. I finally managed to hook a fish. It would have been a keeper too, but in playing him into the shore, he managed to slip off the hook and swim free. I had a few more nudges at my flies, but no more bites.
Many veteran fly fishers will tell you that it’s not all about hooking or landing the fish. As much as I’d have liked to bring home a trout or two for dinner last night, I have to say, the lessons taught by that trout made every moment worth it. I even enjoyed the laughter I shared with him as he played while I tried to un-snag my line!
Perched on a rock above the river
Listening to the sound of water
Falling upon itself
Falling a hundred times
Over submerged rocks
Its sound drowning all else
Feel the brush of wind
The wild energy of the place
Breathe in its lively laughter
Exhale worries to drift away
Taken by the current
Walking in the canyon
Rounded water-worn rock
Rises from the trail under our feet
Marking the course of the ancient river
Walls of greys and tans and browns
Rise above our heads to meet a brilliant blue sky
The earth-toned landscape is
Dotted with yellow of rabbitbrush in bloom
The wind brushes our backs
Carrying the scent of Juniper
And blooming desert sage
We taste the dust
That rises in plumes with each step
To coat our legs and bodies
Buzz of insects and call of birds
Sound of wind through rock and trees
Mute the sound of the nearby highway
We spy lizards scurrying across sand and rock
And pass petroglyphs
Etched by not-so-ancient travelers
A pile of obsidian flakes
An old fire ring half buried in sand and dust
In the hard packed earth
Tracks of a cougar follow tracks of a deer
Scavenged bones bleaching in the sun
Scat with bone and fur
Tracks of a cougar meander deeper in
I want to share a little creativity from last September as Maurie and I were still in the early stages of getting to know our new home here in Bend.
Scrub jay flits about
Bright blue back in frosted tree
Show’ring snow on me
(Sorry, no photo of the jays in snowy trees…)
Just when the snow was just about all gone from the last snow storm, we woke to about two inches this morning. Here are a few shots taken from our deck this morning. Continue reading
The screen door bangs
Against the jamb
Through the trees
And between houses
Outside the window
The fraying prayer flags
Flutter and snap
Straining on their line
The great pines
Sway and dance
Forward and back
In all directions
As if trying
To maintain balance
Dark silhouettes against a field of white-gray
Its midsection spotted with yellow-gold light
As the field lightens and changes
The spots grow and merge
Setting the pine aglow
Against the morning-blue sky
Softly swirling down
Frosting tree leaves
With delicate white
I imagine children
Daydreaming in class
As I once did
Of snowball fights
And the snowfall stops
Leaving a light dusting
A tease of things to come
The first snowfall came to Bend this morning. We sat in the office at home, drinking our tea and coffee, watching the rooftops and our deck become coated in white. The yard across the alley gradually began to accumulate snow in the grass, as the ground cooled. At our bird feeders, the birds were busy trying to get as much food as possible.