It’s nineteen degrees and still dark. By dawn it’ll be colder. Overnight we were bombed with the season’s first real powder and it’s still falling. Two days ago it was raining and brown. Two days from now, it’ll be raining and brown. We play the hand we’re dealt.

Daylight reveals the unfamiliar weight of snow on the pines and sagging brush along the road where we’ve parked. A plow truck slows and grumbles by as we climb into our waders and boots. We exchange head-nods with the driver. Silence settles back in around us.

First tracks on the trail, we drop in on a run to get our bearings. We know better than to sleep on trib water even this far upstream. Milk-gray swagger and swing. It punches above its weight. Small water. Big steel. Lake-run haymakers after a first round KO.

But first, they wait till you’ve spent some quality time with snagged-flies and reties. They wait till you’re fingers are bloodless and you’re thinking about your thermos of coffee. They wait till you get that thousand-yard stare. Then they remind you why you’re there.

Photo credit: Lucas Carroll


Filed under On the water, Poetry

9 responses to “THE REMINDER

  1. This one ages well…like wine. The good stuff. I’m learning the lingo — “a good head.” Liked this even better (which I didn’t think possible) reading for the second time.

  2. I’ve had that thousand yard stare all day, but looking at my ceiling fan.

  3. Ross aka the flytyinfreak

    The wait…………… AWESOME!

  4. They do wait, until you’re weak. Not unlike ducks, that wait until you’re half undressed and squatting in the sagebrush purging your bowels before descending upon your spread of decoys. I mean, right?

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