Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Solitude and Home Water

I found myself in a cabin in West Virginia during the first few days of the lockdown. After the trip, I had a long drive home to contemplate the next few weeks of my life and what I wanted to get out of it. While most decided to stay indoors and binge watch an endless amount of television, consume alcohol, and scroll for hours on end, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. As selfish as that may sound, I have never been one to sit around and allow others to dictate my schedule. I decided to head home and leave my apartment behind. The decision meant copious amounts of fishing on my home water during the peak spring trout season. That was something I had not experienced since high school, a long sixteen years ago. Thankfully, Governor Wolf did not close the outdoors, our rivers, and our woods like some states, and angling/recreation was permitted. Although my parents welcomed me with open arms and wanted me to stay in the house, I couldn't consciously do that until more information was available and the recommended two weeks ended. I slept outside, in my car, and eventually lived out of the garage for over a month. Less than ten minutes away was a river of endless opportunities on the fly rod and I intended to take full advantage of the time and solitude it afforded me. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Real Singularity

There is a quote we've all heard about not being able to step into the same river twice. The river isn't the same, and neither is the angler. No other river encompasses this more for me than the Savage. Usually I am there with my brother. Sometimes with friends. Once with my wife. Once, alone. Each pilgrimage has found me at an inflection point or a singularity in my life. While my last visit had me contemplating impending fatherhood, this most recent visit had me daydreaming of what it would be like to bring my son here someday.

This time, as well, the aforementioned truism inverted upon itself as we found the world to have changed each time we returned to shore. Lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, ominous newscasts and their portents of an impending horrific sloughing-off. A societal inflection point. A real singularity.

None of that existed between the banks of this little river. The most anxious thought that could occur within the dome over water bounded by the tailwater fog was whether or not this beautiful brown would break you off in the deep pockets. Nothing from the world outside of the river manifested upon anything that was done along or within it, or on anything that came from it. Emerging from the sanctuary to get food or make contact only made us want to retreat into it again. 

As the inexorable end to the trip loomed nearer, my thoughts turned to parting ways with my brother. We'd probably be going our separate ways for a while, and the uncertainties of the immediate future and the precariousness of life seemed all of a sudden more visceral. Were we living in the good old days without fully realizing it?

This river makes me want to pare down my kit, to make the interface with its ecosystem as uninterrupted by conscious calculations as possible. To be able to focus on what provides satisfaction. A few of the several flies that I know work, some tippet, a net, hemostats, a beer tucked into my waders and my brother working upstream on the far bank opposite me. Keep it simple. Here, and elsewhere. And enjoy every minute of it.