Its good to reconnect with and old friend
We catch up... listening, laughing
Stories of accomplishments since our last meeting are had
A short brief of what to expect
Our excitement surfaces like the pale sun
I once heard that life's path is like a river; braided and flowing at varying speeds, splitting, reconnecting, and sometimes crashing about. Over the last few years my longtime childhood friend, Connor, and I have begun to re-converge. Mostly over fishing discussions, beers when he returns, and the occasional message back and forth about this' and thats'. 15 yeas ago we were both learning lacrosse together and longer still we would play in the woods. Our trajectories diverged through differing career interests, the military for him, not for myself... but today is one of those times where our braids reconnect. The forty-five minute drive leaves plenty of time to dissect the distinctions since our last confluence.
The cold saps the lungs of full inhale
Greetings are exchanged
Coffee is sipped gingerly to elongate it's effective duration
Gear is transferred
Into the car to where the raft lies in wait
We pull up to the landing and Wild Bill awaits; a fellow guide and mentor to myself over the last year or two. He has been here for an unknown amount of time, already netted fish this morning, and ready to row us into another battle. On the other hand we are still battling with sleep, unaware of what adventure, what heartbreak, and what excitement awaits. And thankful for warm coffee in our bellies, the chance to experience the river together on a cold, crisp morning. I told Connor that today will be like drinking from a firehose... a lightly put analogy.
The bite stings a little less this time
Gear is donned
Coffee is re-sipped; warmth battles cold
Silver guerillas lie in wait
Into the raft... quiet unto battle
It's cold... snow dons the forest floor and edges of the banks, receding as the sun gains momentum. The air is still... a calm before the storm. We slide into our wading gear and cringe as the cold follows. The next hours will be a battle for warmth and steel... cold forged. The chill of the boat seeps through our layers and into our bones... creeping deeper. Our faces push through the cold air that blankets the riffles ahead.
The next few hours we stalk our prey. Silver guerillas. Connor picks up the center-pin rod quickly, and Bill quietly assists him into every little nook and cranny the river provides. A lie here, soft riffle there, gravel bottom below. The float passes over the bottom like a silent helicopter over new terrain. He battles the ice on the guides, the numbness in his feet, and the sting of the air on his damp fingers. Cold toes pay no attention to the body shouting out to them. Steady.
It's quite... too quiet
The battle is cold, it is hard, and it is fast. A silver blitzkrieg per se. In short time Connor's hands are wet with river water. With purpose in hoisting his prize. A fresh, cold, piece of water forged steel. The prior hours of hard work are a blur and our adrenaline reignites our engines, warmth flowing through our hands and feet once more. Battle cries... ancestral emotions ignited. We all take a deep, victorious breath.
If there is one thing possibly more rewarding than catching a fish on your own, it is being there the moment a friend/fellow angler catches theirs. Excitement doesn't depend on possession. As the raft is the vessel for travel, fish are the vessels that connect friends.
We return back from the river in the cold... in similar fashion as we arrived; cold and tired, except this time there is a calm satisfaction of the shared experience. Not everyone gets to share such experiences. What matters in the end is not the fish as much as is the friendship. and like the river, it continues on around the bend; gaining distance, speed, volume. We near another break in the river... for now.