Windswept pastures. A small farm lake, crinkled by the mistrals of spring. Alabaster clouds, tinged ashen–pregnant with rain– scuttle southward, low overhead. The air smells of color, choices, and freedom; aerosol sprays will never match it. Nature trumps science. Always. That’s why I’m here.
I will fish. That is certain, and also, secondary. Bull frogs croak a serenade–unending, soothing. For more than 100 years they have sung their songs here. Their cadence settles my heart. I exhale with the clouds. The words will come. I feel it. There is no choice in the matter. The voices are here and will be heard.
A cannonade rumbles in the distance . . . non-threatening, a proximity statement. The frogs pause . . . tonight’s opera a shared performance. The thunder retreats. The amphibian chorus resumes.
The rituals of fly fishing, much like those of writing, are replayed. The sequence never broken. Reel to rod; line through guides; flies to line; waders then boots; a prayer of thanks; an inward smile; the heart opens to life and stories.
My first few casts are spastic, unorganized; as my first few sentences always seem to be. I notice the bull frogs have gone silent. A gust of wind disrupts the flow, then wanes. I place my hand over my chest and feel my heartbeat taper. This is my pace for casting and why I am here; to feel the synchronicity of life and its words.
Unmeasured time passes. I am flushed with words, sentences, stories, ideas. Whose voice do I hear? Mine? Others? I continue to cast, knowing that if I stop, my receptiveness to that around me will recede. All is internalized. There is no need for pen and paper now. My cathartic response allows me to capture the narrative deep in my bones. As rain begins to fall, the drops pelt the wide brim of my hat, sounding like the tapping of keys on my computer, reminding me my goal will be achieved.
The rain stops, then restarts as the wind dies down. I continue to cast, pause, and then strip in line . . . meditation in nature. The bull frogs bellow in rhythm, keeping pace. How do they know? The setting sun cannot penetrate the cloud cover, but I know its beauty is there: unseen, but shining still, patiently waiting. It reminds me of the first draft of my novel that lays in a drawer, on hold.
A bolt of lightning flashes too close for comfort. The thunder rattles my core. I retreat to my car, shed my vest and waders, rod laid carefully inside. My writing bag sits on the front seat. I slide behind the steering wheel, closing the door as a downpour pelts the landscape. I’m sitting inside a drum and still the voices are heard. I continue to write as darkness swallows the panorama.
I fish to return to my source. I write, because I must. There is no other way.
Dean will be giving away a copy of And Then I Smiled to one U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Friday, June 27th. The winner will be announced here on Saturday.
Dean K. Miller is a freelance writer and member of Northern Colorado Writers. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, TROUT magazine, Torrid Literature Journal and other literary magazines. His essays won three separate contests at Midlife Collage. His first book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete was released in February 2014.
For 26 years, Miller has kept the skies safe as an air traffic controller for the FAA and received the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Northwest Mountain Region 2010 Archie League Safety Award. In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing and he is an avid supporter and volunteer for the veteran’s support group Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Laura and their two dogs, Bear and Snickers.