Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear River

Dear River,

Hey. We need to talk.



Scratch that.

We don't need to talk. I need to talk. You need to listen.

We've been together for a long time now; this season marks 21 years. When we first met, you were a mystery - nothing more than a faint blue line winding its way across a forgotten page in my Gazetteer. I was eager and full of energy, and you were the undiscovered country - an unknown whisper of a trout stream in an otherwise forgotten corner of my world. I had heard whispers - of course. Old men spoke of you quietly and with a gleam of fond remembrance in their eyes. "If only I were still your age," they'd say. And the stories they told - they were too fantastic to believe. They were too fantastic to be true.

But they were true. Every story. Every time. They were true. You were every bit the river those old men said you were. Nearly a quarter of a century has passed, and I'm still wading your runs; our history only makes more difficult those things I have to say.

I never thought the day would come; I can't believe I have to say this, but I think we need some time apart. I want to say, "it isn't you ... it's me" but that's just not true. The truth is that it's you - entirely you. For years you were constant as the north star, a friend whenever I needed a friend, a confidant who helped me soldier through my worst moments of worry and regret. You made me feel loved, but something is different. Something small but significant has changed. You're not the same river with whom I fell so desperately in love all those years ago. It's like I don't know you anymore - if ever I did.

There was a time when I knew - with absolute certainty - that the first week of May meant fiddle-head ferns and a tremendous hendrickson hatch. Fish would rise - big fish - with the carelessness born of a long winter, and I would leave the river every evening having been reminded that I am a man. After the hendicksons were sulphurs, and after the sulphurs came drakes, olives, and white flies. Every hatch - every fish - was an assurance that you loved me the way that I loved you.

And as much as it pains me to say, it's over, isn't it? Seems I just don't know anything anymore. Last year, the hendricksons came in March. March? Really? This year the hendricksons have been sparse at best and entirely absent at worst. Why?

How could you so easily discard my favorite hatch? You must know that the first hatch of the year is always the best hatch of the year. Was it deliberate? Did you want it to cut? Did you want it to hurt? It did.

So that is why - as much as anything else - I've decided that we need a break from each other. You need time to become whomever it is you're becoming, and I need a chance to explore other corners of the world. Please don't misunderstand. I love you. I will always love you, but I am afraid that I cannot go on loving you if things continue as they are. Maybe after we've spent some time apart we'll discover that what we really need is each other. I hope so. I do.



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