He looked up at the Hemlock branch hanging high and just over the stream. He looked up every time he came here, always trying to see if he could spot the fly that he hooked and lost on this branch long ago. He never did. He came to this place whenever he wanted to wet a line, which, wasn’t nearly as often as he had planned when he retired. But then, he couldn’t really retire or he would die, he was sure. So he came here, to this special place on his land, on his stream. Well, at least a small part of the stream. And he thought of this stretch of fast moving, gin clear water, as his holy place…his own personal holy water.
The river was born a short way upstream, maybe a mile. The earth there, gave forth a thousand tiny springs from its womb, much like a mother bears a child. And in that mile, the child grew swift and strong by the time it arrived at this place. It rolled swiftly under low hanging sweepers, that bounced up and down as they touched the face of the moving water. It danced over small, shouting falls, and over sand & gravel spawning beds.
On the bank, he stood in the foyer of home to speckled brook and brown trout of all sizes…some of them – the browns – were of legendary size. His river was maybe 30 feet wide on average, and 11 miles long. It continued to fall as it made its way to the confluence of other waters that would eventually wind their way to Lake Michigan. The water was cold, so cold that your bare ankles would go numb after one minute of exposure. It was pure, so pure that occasionally, he would scoop some up in his glass of whiskey and happily slug it down. It was cold and pure and perfection for the type of home that trout…and souls, need to survive in.
It was late afternoon, the best time to be by the river because the falling sunlight always seemed to hit the water just right, so that for the first time of the day, the only time of day, he could look downstream and see the dancing water for a long way, as it swirled over falls and past eddy’s, and it danced, and laughed, and it sparkled like a million bright diamonds. So he sat on a log and wondered.
Lately, more like for some time, his life had been slowly unraveling from depression and despair. And he didn’t know why. He had a good life and many things to be grateful for. His heart and soul knew this, but his mind refused to agree. There were black times of long pain and silence, of endless, helpless, crying…not able to stop the tears although he wanted to.
The sun was moving fast now, lower in the west. But the warm light still felt good. Yet he couldn’t stop the rivers flowing down his cheeks. He stood and moved down the log where the sun still shone. The hemlock was in different light now. He raised his head back onto his shoulders facing the last rays of the, sun and they were warm on his wet face. Still leaning back, he turned toward the hemlock and opened his eyes. Through the tears, he saw a sparkle high on a branch, and he smiled and laughed. The tears stopped, he breathed the smell of spruce deep into his lungs, and he knew that he would be better.