This post is gonna get a little personal. Fair warning.
It’s been 2 weeks but it feels like a month. Time is not the same, a concoction of trauma, shock, and no bearing from the river, no hatches to time my day, no sun hitting the water telling me what time it is, no clients to tell me what day it is. I get hit with waves, I still look at my phone anticipating a text or message, I cry a lot. I spent time alone in the mountains trying. Didn’t work. Too many memories that are fresh. Plus rain.
I have her ashes now. Some kind of closure I reckon. Gives me the opportunity to share the places I ramble with her. We had done a lot and planned to do more. I still get a little bit of that I suppose.
I’m still numb, but I put on a good face. I must give props and gratitude to my fellow guides and anglers who allowed me to just bum it in the shops, not ask questions, let me tie flies, talk shop, and try and move through the day like me. J Michelle and Gabe you did a lot for me today with or without knowing.
I need to get back to work. I’m swimming in myself without it. And its a maelstrom in here and I don’t have the right boat for it.
The river mirrors what’s going on internally and I can’t look at it any…more. Maybe when it calms so will I. Here at the lakes of my early days, in the twilight, the sky lime, blue, and orange, stars peeking, I feel the river pull me less. It is still there, its incessant tumbling, roiling, and whitewater noise humming in my head…but too far away to draw me into those depths.
It’s warm here, it’s not raining, the breeze is blowing the right way so you don’t smell cow shit. Just the lakes and sage. The bats frolic and flutter about chasing the tricos, caddis, and skeeters. Frogs croaking and the toollies whispering against the wind. The lake is rippled and the three quarter moon bright; casting faint shadows and reflecting off the ever moving lake surface. It glints and glitters, the campfires little pops of light around the banks. A party down yonder with Latin music playing politely, I recall the tunes from my youth.
Sad doesn’t really work as a descriptive word but I can’t find a better one despite my love of words. Under it all I do feel that ambition to chase fish though. It’s there trying to break through, but I’m only letting it bubble up one…bubble…at a time. It’s there though, and my boat knows it.
She has always had words with me. She talks. 12 years with a boat and all the places and miles we’ve done together we have full on conversations. She remembers clients and fish, people and experiences, my alter ego in a sense, the part of me no one gets to know save for a few who’ve heard our chats, and her. They talked, she understood.
The boat knows and it senses what I’m doing to that drive and need to fish. She knows I can’t sit still. The boat talks shit when I miss fish, gets angry when she isn’t in the water but getting driven around, the boat knows and she is pushy. I named the boat The Subtle Tale but she is anything but. Here on the lakes she knows what I want. I want bass. Good ones. I want to cast and cast, strip and pull, set and hook, land and smile. She knows. Her ass will be cawing at me at sunup telling me there are fish waiting. Maybe those Muskie in the lake just over the low ridge, or those stinky stalked trout in the lakes I sit between. Even if it’s windy she says we go, we have an anchor and you know the coves and edges the wind doesn’t effect the cast no matter which way it comes from. You know Nate. And the boat is that part of me. I’ve put myself into this boat. Blood, sweat, tears, broken rods, lost and landed fish, all the people we’ve shared experiences with, I am my boat and she is me.
I’m sitting in my boat instead of a camp chair writing this because I’m always more comfortable in here. My hands only ever content with oars in them, this is the only place I can sit in one place for hours these days. It grounds me in the fluid motion of water, makes me one with whatever we find ourselves floating. Water no longer scares me, only excites me, and that drive is there, I lost my fear of water long ago after being made to feel small by it. I’ve embraced it, tis why I row, I snorkel, I fish. Water is home, no matter where it be. The boat and I have floated and fished all kinds of water, big and small, foreboding and butt hole puckering, calm and delightful, miles upon miles in too many rivers and places to name. It’s what I know and love.
Here in the Basin, not the Yakima or Teanaway is where the boat and I slide back into things. Neither the Yak or I am ready for the river, despite the boats’ pleas to hit that big ass water because we both know we could. No. Here where it all started for me; this is where we find it again. Be on water first and off last. From dawn till dusk, plant myself in the boat all fucking day and sit still for once. Well…as much as my boat and I sit still in the water.
Tie in the boat, eat in the boat, fuck take a ciesta in the boat. I’ve made myself stay put here. Put trips on the schedule for the next 2 weeks. Thank you to everyone that is coming out. I need this and have a few days to put myself through it before guiding. The weather gets nice, it will be warm, fish will eat, and I will find myself guiding again.
The evening sets in, the lake still glints in the moonlight. Ushering me to my tent, my boat whispering sleep Nate, you must be up before the fish. I listen hesitantly, but I do what I’m told, slowly. Okay boat, let me finish this smoke and ponder a moment longer as I look at the lake and I will adhere. Fish to be chased on the morn.