As the morning yawns itself awake I can hear that the rain has let up. Shaking myself loose from the sleeping bag I get some coffee started in the camp percolator – the one that always reminds me of my grandparent’s house during the holidays. I’ll fill the trusty red thermos, throw on an old flannel and hit the road. Even in the dampness the day holds promise. The promise of escape. The promise of the river. And perhaps, if luck holds, the promise of a Fall Brown Trout on the fly.
My radio is tuned to a local country station and the lyrics to a Dierks Bentley song feel especially poignant in the moment – like a short sermon delivered to a notoriously delinquent parishioner: “This morning I got up at 6:01. I walked out and saw the rising sun. And drank it in like Whiskey. I saw a tree I’ve seen a thousand times. A bird on a branch and I watched it fly away in the wind. And it hit me. It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear”. The tires hum along the worn blacktop. I sip my coffee and observe the passing landscape with a newfound appreciation – the message having found its mark.
Pulling into the vacant boat launch cold gravel crunches under the tires. I see Geoff, already in his waders, looking out over the tannic ribbon of water. Colored leaves rattle quietly in the trees. It’s a scene that is distinctly Michigan in the Fall. The breeze carries a hint of decay as one season begins its transition to the next: from birth to death from death to birth. I walk up beside him and pass the thermos as we observe the river.
Eventually we meld into the rhythm of the stream and, out of habit, I adjust the weathered camo hat on my head hoping to coax a small measure of the luck I know it holds. Pulling back gently on the oars, already fighting the inevitable end, I move into position. Geoff’s cast finds a promising undercut bank on the left, seasons of practice displayed in a precise tight loop. A slow twitch followed by a watery explosion and the hat has done its job. I smile knowingly to myself and grab the net.