Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Turning Point

She stood in the doorway, beautiful there, that led to the small asphalt courtyard from the musty bar. She waited as I tipped the bartender.  We never liked to be out of sight.  I brought the drinks and we sat at the metal grated cafe chairs.  The kind that waffle at your thighs.  The music loomed outside with us.  Blues. The haze of the evening was setting in as the city sunlight crayoned a soft September dusk onto the brick and slab of the buildings that hung over us.  A teenage romance that strained to arch into adulthood.  It was either to continue here or to halt and drop our hearts where we sat.  A turning point.

"It's me or it's not.  Now or never", I stated flatly trying both to be brave and tough.  I was a sapling though.

She pointed her eyes down.  Took a drink.  Smiled.

"There's a lot to think about..."

"There's not," I demanded.

A drunk girl, twenty some-odd-not old enough to drink, strolled by gasping, "You guys are soooooo cute together!"

We laughed as the girl passed.  I remarked about how even the drunk girl knew about us.  She tilted her head back up and set her brown eyes upon mine.  The flicker of a candle sparkled inside of them.  I held my breath and sharply swilled at the beer.

"I just needed some time.  I may need more but I understand if you can't give that to me."

"I can't," I answered, "it's too much already.  If you go, I won't be here when you turn back."

Hardball.  A gamble.  I risked everything.  At that moment she might have gotten up.  I might have paid the tab and walked out of that bar with nothing but a cheap buzz as I stared blankly while she walked down the tiled subway platform.  She didn't though.  She sat.  She smiled.  I took her hand.

"Are you sure about us?"  She paused.  "Are you sure?", she asked.

I turned her soft hand up into mine and interlocked our fingers.  I pulled her in, across the small table.  We kissed.

"Let's go," I said.  "I've always been sure.  Always."

We stood up.  She was radiant.  The point had turned and she was mine.

Still is.

(I know.  It's not about fishing.  But winter is officially over and opening day is at hand.  Another turning point.  One that we can all celebrate.  Good luck out there.  Tight lines.  Back to our regularly scheduled program. -- Mike)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Winter at the River's Edge: A book review...of sorts.

My friend Walt over at Rivertop Rambles sure can write.  He brings the fishing narrative to a whole new level over at his stomping grounds here in the blogosphere.  I have been following Walt's adventures for nearly two years or better I guess, so I decided back before all this damn cold came to claim the northeast for the duration that I should pick up one of his paperback books.  I'm sure glad I did.

River's Edge; A Fly Fishing Realm is a remarkable journey throughout the streams and rivers where North Western New York State mixes company with the beautiful wildness of Pennsylvania.  Each chapter has the reader walking along the trail-side with Walt on one of his "home" streams in this seemingly timeless region.  The author writes with ease and recounts his experiences on these waters while offering insight into some practical items such as access areas, species, ideal rods for specific streams, etc.  Nary a Sunday morning went by for me in this last month or two where my coffee wasn't accompanied by a chapter or two.

Walt takes us for a ramble along the Kinderhook, where he got his start as a kid "on the fly".  Dropped off by his parents at the ripe old age of twelve, Walt seems to have connected to the solitude immediately.  Upon his return years and years later, the memories flood the fisherman as well as having the present moment take him directly back in time.  With each passing chapter, the author connects us to his life's fishing journey utilizing history; not only his own but of the streams and rivers he meanders on.  Tales of townships, watering holes, citizens, etc. keep us company while we wade through the pages.  The solitude that the reader finds in the author's words are never an image of loneliness.  Yes, there are a couple of tales of days spent with fishing partners but mostly Walt is on his own in nature.  It is no wonder that we sense from him an expertise on birds, flora, vegetation, critters, and what have you.  It is inspiring to read of the knowledge that Walt has, not only of fishing, but of all that he is surrounded by.  In his humble exploration, the reader never feels that the writer is doing anything but sharing in a selfless way.  I've read some of the "experts" and they certainly want you to know it.  Walt attempts no part of that but instills in the reader a curiosity for things unknown in the wild.

What must be mentioned regarding River's Edge is it's connection to conservation.  The author, again without presumption, not only knows the waters he fishes like the back of his hand but contributes much to the lifeblood of these streams.  Whether a trail-side communication to an unethical fisherman or a full blown stream restoration effort through different communities, Walt has either had a hand in these or at least knows and appreciates the trials and tribulations these rivers and their inhabitants have survived through.  Clearly a passion of the writer's that connects him to the species he fishes for, conservation ties the entire existence of fisherman to fish, to surroundings, to nature at large.  This, the reader takes away and hopefully carries to his or her own home streams.

My thought before writing this "review" was to explore a few of my favorite chapters for you out there in cyberspace but instead I invite you to find yours.  There are bound to be a few, this much I can promise.  As I mentioned, Walt Franklin is a damn good writer, and this book reflects this undeniable fact from the riffles to the pools of his favorite trout streams and back out into the wild surroundings that all of us treasure.