When you worked hard for a fish all day on the previous day and came up empty and then had reserved yourself to the idea that today would be more of the same, suddenly that fish, that moment, becomes the most genuine high five with a friend that’s ever happened.
I stood at the Jeep, a fly box on the hood opened up displaying my tools to the fishing gods while I struggled to tie on a size 16 scud. A red squirrel sat on a rotten limb leaning against the base of a tree, watching me with indifference as it rolled something over and over in its paws, gnawing away feverishly and filling its cheeks. If the truth was told, we were probably both in the same frame of mind. Better get this done now while we still can. A forty-five degree day in December is nothing to take for granted. I rig up a fly rod. The squirrels search out and store away more food. We all have our priorities.
The same thing played out over and over for the next half hour or so. A good cast, a good drift, a rise and inspection, and a refusal by a dumb nine inch stocked brown trout. I looked closely at the small caddis imitation between my thumb and index finger several times. Each time I thought to myself that it looked real enough to me, that it should look even better to a dumb animal, and that neither one really mattered since it was the only one I had.
When things finally come together they feel like a fish pulling against you at the end of your line…
Patience. By definition it’s the capacity to accept or tolerate delay without getting angry or upset. My Grandmother used to tell me it was a virtue. As a high school kid in ripped jeans and a leather jacket it was the only hit song off the Guns-N-Roses “Lies” album, and today, twenty-eight years later, patience is something I seem to be in short supply of. Whatever it is I want done, I don’t want to screw around, I just want it done now. It needs to happen now. So that I can move on to more important things. Like fishing.
But this morning I came across some pictures from up on the towers, and it lead to me thinking about things that I took away from my short time in that industry. Mostly fly fishing, and a pair of old friends. In the picture I’m looking down past my boots at the featureless landscape four-hundred and fifty some odd feet below. But it wasn’t the height, and it wasn’t the memory of that specific job that made the picture special. It was my boots supporting me up on the narrow, cold steel up in the wind. They’re my wading boots.
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