Saturday, January 16, 2010

River Rehearsal

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

The famous philosopher Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” After spending the Christmas holidays with family in Oklahoma during the state’s worst blizzard in history, I could relate to the depth of winter part. Arriving home, I received only a brief reprieve before we received our own “after-Christmas-gift” of snow, leaving the roads a frozen mess after a day of record-breaking low temps.
Stepping out on my back porch to empty trash in our big barrel, I heard a heavenly melody from one of our resident Cardinals. Balancing on one of the suet cakes swaying from the edge of the porch guttering, he puffed out his tiny red chest and sang as though his small heart would burst from the joy of it. The freezing winter wind ruffled his top-knot and still he continued.
I stopped a moment and observed our fluffy landscape through new sight: the coiled-up water hose, now unhooked, where I’d normally rinse off waders and boots after a morning on the water; the bamboo-like river cane, forever green, silently keeping time to the bird’s symphony; and the hole in the large tree at the edge of the campground steps where squirrels nestled each night, sleeping part of the winter away. There was peace and contentment in that observation.
Waiting another moment, I watched the river churn below me off the edge of our campground. The rushing water created its own composition more like a moving gospel piece than a waltz. The White River is considered a tailwater and therefore at the mercy of the Bull Shoals Dam generation schedule. For the past several weeks, there have been large numbers of units generated round the clock with no wadable water; but the magnificence of these high flows was not lost on me either. In about ten more days when the measurement is back to power pool, there will be low water and giant trout ready to garner my fly into their strong lips, providing delight inexpressible to other types of fisher folk. With the plethora of food provided, fish will have grown plump and feisty and assault anything that moves. There is hopefulness in that vision.
I daydream of four-wheeler rides downriver to my neighbor’s back yard where I will park and tip-toe gingerly down his homemade rock steps across the deep gully. Then I will trek across the large gravel bar to my favorite riffle. My mind wanders to the new narrows access above Wildcat Shoals where I’ve only fished twice; but found to be a paradise truly worthy of those who make the effort to walk across two islands to arrive there.
And I retreat to my cozy kitchen and gaze out my bay window at the birds. Now I understand the songbird’s message. In the sunny days to come, there will be a great thawing. Spring will bring new hope and enjoyment of the sport I love ….
And I too will sing.