An Angler Returns
... Quickly I changed, set up my fly rod, and marched down the narrow boardwalk and up a short flight of steps. I stood at the top of the high dune.
A fiery corridor of reflected sunlight blazed at right angles to the advancing, gently breaking waves. The long beach was spotted with only a few clumps of people. Instantly, nature painted over the images in my mind of a fast-moving, automobile-choked, concrete and brick city. I became as calm as the beach. The five years I had been away seemed to have collapsed into five days. I thought, Maybe Einstein is right about time being relative, or maybe a part of me never really left the island.
I didn’t see other anglers. The tide was high. I scanned the beach looking for a big point and found one about fifty yards to the west. Seagulls streaked above the surf. Their piercing squawks made them sound like drunken hooligans cruising for a fight. I wondered, Why can’t seagulls sing beautifully, like other birds? At least they can circle and dive, and show anglers where bait fish, and possibly stripers, are.
This time, however, they didn’t circle and dive.
Though I didn’t have their help, I wasn’t discouraged. I marched across the soft, warm sand to the harder, cool surf. I walked to the big point where years before, for perhaps the first time in my life, I had voluntarily surrendered to something much bigger than myself: the infinite beauty all around me, a beauty that made me forget all the pain and disappointment I had been through.
Again I wanted to surrender, maybe because nature was a higher power I could believe in. I put on my stripping basket and then false cast, letting out more and more fly line. Finally, I made my presentation cast and let the line go. My front loop took the shape of an arrowhead. My green Deceiver turned over and landed about eighty feet out, just beyond an incoming wave. Unlike the seagulls, the breaking waves spoke softly. They splashed around my legs and greeted me, one by one. As they slid back out, they tried to pull me with them. I fought their beckoning, stood my ground, and retrieved my line, six inches at a time.
I thought of how all the clichés about fishing—being caressed by nature’s beauty and being washed of self and time—were true; and though as a writer I always tried to avoid clichés, now, as I stood in nature’s canvas, I was sure no one, especially me, would criticize the clichés in my mind. ...
From, The Way of the River My Journey of Fishing, Forgivness and Spiritual Recovery
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