Dial tones

I come here for the wide open space,

Where the river flows across the valley

To the coastal lowlands.

.

This is where I wanted to be,

but now the reality of all this space

Bites hard.

.

A dying afternoon breeze swirls chilled gusts

Into my face, down my neck,

Into my bones.

.

Off west a big wall of fog rolls across the lowlands

Swallowing up everything.

A giant dark wave that might stifle the wind,

Or send it running in every direction.

.

Standing hip deep in the chilled water doesn’t help.

My legs have stiffened to stifle a shiver.

And I’m hopelessy hunched over

Like an old man worn by years of toil.

.

The water is still off-colored, just clear enough,

Seducing me with clear green edges,

Closer, now, the brown-tinged center hides the river,

Calling for a painfully methodical pace,

So things can see and be seen.

.

Here the river sweeps long against the bedrock cliff,

Tracing a classic slot for winter steelhead to sit.

Sitting and doing whatever they do.

Waiting?

.

Minutes ago, this water gave up a ten pounder to me.

Now I’m hunting for another.

.

Another grab at the fly, a quick swipe as the fly

Hangs down below me

In the deep seam at the edge of the slot.

.

The cliff along the far bank is overhung by ferns,

All dripping steadily into the sweetest water,

Like a dial tone maybe,

Waiting for the ring…

.

Another cast, another half step,

Repeat.

.

Another swipe.

.

Now the failing wind lets moments of glassy stillness

Cover everything

Just for a moment, before another push up the valley,

Announcing it’s coming by the ripples pushing up the long run.

.

A third tag, this time just a peck.

The cold gets forgotten

Just for a moment.

.

The fish rolls down below me, showing silver

Before disappearing back down,

Into the greenish brown mystery world where fish sit and wait,

Waiting for strange-looking concoctions

The quickest glance of feather and fur swimming past.

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