Winter Longing   1 comment

I usually take the bus to work, but on Tuesdays I get to use the car (the one car we own) to take care of personal errands, etcetera.

On this very cold day, with ice-covered roads and bright winter sun, I was heading west on Madison’s Beltline wishing I had time to go look at a trout stream. Perhaps Mount Vernon, the West Branch of the Sugar, or Vermont Creek.

I picture myself tromping through the snow away from the road, in my jeans and shoes, tracking to the sound of flowing water. I feel with my mind the snow entering my shoes and my ankles getting wet and then cold. I can see with my mind’s eye the sun reflecting off an ice cold riffle where spring water washes over rocks in the current. And I study the washed-out hole, about 5 feet deep, where several dark brown trout are holding near the bottom, avoiding the cold surface water, looking for absolutely anything to eat.

The trout lay where the sun hits the bottom of the hole, their dark backs absorbing whatever energy the sun might provide.

One of the trout sticks his nose into the silt along the cut bank to stir up insect larvae that might be hiding, and, finding one, sucks it up with quick efficiency. No wonder trout are so voracious come springtime. With so little to eat it’s a wonder they make it through the dark frozen winter.

A Spring Creek in Winter

A Spring Creek in Winter

In my mind my eyes follow the creek upstream to the next bend, but my feet complain about being cold and wet. So I carefully turn around and retrace my steps back to the shoulder of the road, where my car sits, motor running, heater heating. And though my feet begin to thaw out as soon as I sit down and close the door, my curiousity about what lies upstream remains.

And there I am again, driving west on the Beltline, nearly to work now. My feet are totally dry and pleasantly warm, my cup of coffee warming my right hand, and I’m pulling in to work now, right on time, because I never did take that detour to go see a troutstream on the fourteenth of December.

It was just a daydream, a wish that springtime was already here, that opening day had arrived and me and my dog and my fishing partner were out in that meadow, fooling fish once again.

One response to “Winter Longing

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  1. I can’t believe you didn’t see me out there! We must of been working different parts of the stream. I’m pretty sure I saw a few small ‘snow midges’, ghostly pale and no larger than a piece of 12 pt font.

    Spring is just around the corner. Some kind of spring anyway. I want to go out and explore that piece of property with the stream on it fairly soon if we get a chance.

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