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Health and a Day

Belle my grey muzzled companion.

February is the shortest of the months from an actual length stand point, but to me it can seem like the longest when I am tired of driving in snow and scraping windows.  For me there is a cure however.  Emerson wrote in his book," Nature"; "Give me Health and a day and I will make the pomp emperors ridiculous".  This is all I need!  A day spent stalking a stream with fly rod in hand and dog in tow will revive me from the deepest of the winter doldrums.  In the last week of February I found such a day.  A day with a beautiful forecast and an empty schedule.  I will never say that a February day on the stream is better than July with its green, its heat, its multitudes of insects hatching and the fish chasing any fly on the water with reckless abandon, or late September with its incredible oranges and reds lighting the banks and fish anxious to find nourishment before winter.  A February day can be their equal however, with its brilliant white, intense quiet and ice forming winters works of art on the logs and stones.  A stream I have fished a hundred times becomes new again with each change of season.  Sorry to quote Emerson again but he says it better then I ever could.

"I please myself with the graces of winter scenery, and believe we are as much touched by it as the genial influences of summer.  To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which has never been seen before and which will never be seen again".

Shapes never to be seen again.

And so it was with this day, the snow was on the ground, the late winter light fell soft, my grey muzzledcompanion of thirteen years was by my side and the ice forming in shapes on logs and rocks that would never be seen again.  The stream flowed low, gentle and clear over the amber stones.  The temperature was slightly over forty which was cool enough to remind you that it was still winter, but warm enough to encourage me that spring would in fact come.  The first blue wing olive mayflies of the year were beginning to ascend to the surface of the stream.  When I was quiet and patient enough I was rewarded by the sight of a nose gently breaking the surface of a quiet pool and sipping one.  That is the sight that, for the moment, breaks the serenity.  The sight that causes  my pulse to quicken as I strip line to cast.  The fly lands silently on the water and slowly drifts down

shimmering gold accented with scarlet

to the trout who rides the current up to meet it.  A circle of ripples replaces the fly on the otherwise smooth surface,Iraise the rod tip and the line goes tight.  The darkness of the pool is replaced by flashes of gold as the trout struggles for the safety of the depths.  I see crimson deep in the water as his gill plates flair.  The trout leaps clear of the water spraying droplets across the surface.  My dog Belle has spent most of her life retrieving game and has never quite gotten the idea that retrieving is not required or helpful now.  She plunges in after the fish, never able to quite grasp this slippery creature.  Despite the best efforts of the fish and Belle the battle is soon over and the trout is in my wet hand.  Its not large, 9 inches at most, but beautiful.  Shimmering gold accented with

beauty is where you find it

scarlet, sleek and perfectly designed for its environment.  I slip the small spun dun from its jaw and slid it back into the stream.  The trout steadies itself for a moment as oxygen washes over his gills, it regains its strength and with a powerful thrust of its tail it becomes a shadow deep in the hole and then disappears.  The ripples disappear from the streams surface and serenity returns.  The shadow of the hills cross the stream signaling it’s time to begin my hike back to the car.  Peace fills my heart, I am full and my spirit is restored.  Truly, health and a day have made the pomp of emperor’s ridiculous and I am grateful for both.

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