Now I know I’m a fisherman. I’m very aware that the word of a fisherman is to be taken lightly, or to be taken with a grain of salt, or to be completely disregarded in some instances, say, when hands are held out and the statement “It was this big” is uttered. But...
The creek out back. That’s how I refer to it most of the time. It’s got a name like most creeks, but to me it’s the creek out back. Why? Because that’s where it is. The name isn’t important on most days. Less and less becomes important to me all the time the older I get it seems. And what I hold onto as actually important likewise becomes more important the older I get. The creek is important. Its name, not so much as its location. Out back.
I had a 1955 Chevy hot rod once, with a hula pig on the dash. You know, just like the old hula dancers they used to stick on the dash in the ‘60s, except mine was a pig in a grass skirt. It just fit the car better. The streamers fit the Jeep and in the bigger scheme of things just as well today as that pig did twenty years ago. The pig was just there, goading me into another hard launch at a stop light to see if I could make it kiss it’s toes, while the streamers are there now tempting me to stop at the barge canal as I drive over the bridge above it, the rain hammering the surface like a million drum sticks trying to beat out a rhythm that ends up just being white noise.
But as he handed me the rod back I felt a hand on my elbow and turned to find an older gentleman in a wheelchair with his daughter behind him. With a stubby unshaven face of light gray and tinted prescription glasses he looked up at me with a smile and tried to say something. “I’d like…” He didn’t finish his sentence but nodded his head positively. “You’d like to try?” He smiled bigger and nodded some more. “Yes!”
The stream’s last defense was the thick alders that lined it, so thick that I doubt thorn bushes could have done much better at all to keep us out. The Lost Boys had told me no waders, you’ll destroy them in there in two minutes. I left my waders behind but questioned it of course, but now I could see, I could confirm. Pushing though the undergrowth, I felt a stinging on the back of my left calf, and then the same on my right thigh as alder branches that were intertwined better than the fibers in a rope held me back as I tried to push through. They grabbed fly rods, slashed at faces, pulled hats from heads, but in the end the will of the fly fishermen was more than they could hold back, and we stood at the water’s edge.
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