There's Always Tomorrow by Mark Usyk

A lazy Sunday morning. Yesterday I’d looked out the kitchen window to see the water of the Oriskany Creek cascading down the spillway in light sheets at what looked to me as what I describe as perfect fishing water. It wasn’t rushing over in the least, as a matter of fact, it was flowing so low that three stripes of snow had actually built up like three fingers, reaching from the top of the concrete slope down to the water at the bottom. There the water frothed lightly for only a couple feet before it calmed and blended into the pool. The day before our thermometer had read in the negatives first thing in the morning and never made it out of single digits all day. So to see it looking so perfect, and the thermometer reading in the comfortable numbers again on a Saturday, but to have too much to do and no time to do it, I simply told myself, tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. Now, on a lazy Sunday morning, with temperatures hovering around forty, the winds were gusting to around the same number it seemed, a light rain working on melting the snow and raising the flow out back. There’s always tomorrow.

As the wind rattles the windows of my writing room I sit here and consider possibilities. That downstream on the creek, closer to its mouth where it enters the Mohawk, where the banks are all ten feet tall and cut out of the sand of the Oriskany Flats, that there, the wind is most likely screaming by over the tops of the trees, easily sixty feet, far above where the loops of my line would take shape. Or that standing below the face of Delta Dam, where the top of the dam and the rim of earth and trees surrounding me would be an easy hundred-plus feet above me, that there as I could usually find it, it would be calm enough to the cast the fly rod. A bubble for anglers to practice their art inside of on some of the windiest days. As I sit and search my memories for other places that could work on a day like today the house shakes for a second like a train traveling over an old trestle and leaves pass the windows at a high rate of speed, making it look as though for a few seconds the house is moving at a good clip. Holly speaks up from the living room as if reading my mind, there’s no way you could go fishing in this.

On a day like today there are plenty of things I can find to keep me connected to the idea of fly fishing to be sure, and plenty of stuff I need to do. I’ve got two stories I need to write, one of which I should have had done a couple days ago. I have no idea what that story even is at this point and most likely won’t until I’m at least half a paragraph into it. Writing about fly fishing, I’ve come to find out, can be a lot like the actual act of fly fishing itself some days. You have no idea how the fishing is going to go, what you’re going to catch, or if you’re just going to drive from place to place all day long hoping for something, anything, to happen. But at the end of the day, as long as you didn’t break a rod, tear a pair of expensive waders, or almost drown, it was probably a good day, fish caught or not, simply because you weren’t doing anything else. Of course almost drowning means you didn’t drown. And that can mean all kinds of good stuff. You’ve got a good story to tell your buddies for one, you probably learned a good lesson for another, one you should’ve already known I might add but now you had a successful refresher on the subject, and most importantly of any of them, you’re alive. Ok, maybe the threat and subsequent victory over a life threatening event doesn’t hold true sitting at the writing desk, but the rest relate relatively spot on.

I could finish uploading my book to the publisher, get the back cover and the table of contents done. Most likely that’s one of the things that I will get done before closing my eyes tonight. It’s been a wild ride getting to this point to say the least. Sixty-one short stories. The real reason any of us fish, the memories. I can never read enough stories about people out chasing fish and all the back stories that lead up to them, and even though my first book is all but finished and selling at this point, I’m already thinking ahead to the next one, and the next after that. There again, it’s no different than pulling off your waders or putting the boat back on the trailer and starting your drive home. You’ve only been off the water for a few minutes, but the entire drive home you’re already looking forward to, and probably even planning, your next time out. The stories really, whether writing my own or reading someone else’s, are all about never wanting our time on the water to end.

In the time between waking up this morning to see the creek still at a very fishable and pleasant level to now, the rain and above freezing temperatures have melted enough snow to raise the water in the creek a substantial amount. I can see even from this distance that the water has taken on a brown color and the three fingers of snow are gone from the concrete spillway, the white frothing water at the bottom now extends halfway out into the pool, no longer white, no longer frothing. Now more like a growing rage.

And there it is, my fate sealed for what will be at least a couple days, and since I have a day job my fate sealed for the next week. I will cast no loops except for those in my head and catch no fish except for those in my memories. There’s always next weekend I guess. And then looking out to the living room over my pile of note books full of story possibilities, a stack of books containing a dictionary, thesaurus, and a small stack of fishing magazines, past the rod tubes standing in the corner and the fly boxes, there stands the Christmas tree, reminding me. Nope, it’s more like two weeks realistically. But it makes me feel better to take it one day at a time. It stings less that way. There’s always tomorrow.