It was a perfect spring day to fly fish on the river, Shannon thought, shifting her truck into third gear. The ice had broken a couple weeks earlier and the water had warmed enough to wake the bellies of this slumbering fish, sleeping beauties in the muck and rocks on the riverbed.
She headed north on Route 116 reflexively, not realizing she had decided where to go until she was well on her way to her father’s favorite fishing hole. It was the place where he’d taught her to cast and reel, select flies from those she’d brought, to stand still against the river’s urgency, and to be silent in a thoughtful, even reverent way, inside the rhythm of it.
Shannon rounded the familiar corner and drove another quarter of a mile. Pulling over onto the wide sandy shoulder of the road, she got out and with an economy of movement gathered her fishing pack, pole, and waders. She headed through the underbrush, ducking under the bright green tender ends of young branches, listening for the animal chatter and birdsong to get a sense if all was well in the wood.
At the edge of the river where she turned left to follow it upstream to the hole, she found a completely submerged dinghy. The sun shone through the leaves like a spotlight onto it. So unexpected, she stopped to consider it more closely. The frogs had laid their eggs in a dense gel that covered the grassy end closest to shore where the sides of the boat provided shelter and a little universe inside the boat swayed gently with the river’s flow.
She leaned over the water with her hands on her knees and felt a deep growl building in her chest. In the deepest version of her voice she sang out over the water:
“Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord,
But you don’t really care for music, do you…”**
*Photo by Michael Leland
**Lyrics by Leonard Cohen