“There are people in my life who sometimes worry about me when I go off into the fields and streams, not realizing that the country is a calm, gracious, forgiving place and that the real dangers are found in the civilization you have to pass through to get there.” – John Gierach
When you turn on the television, there’s incessant updates: A news line runs along the bottom of local channels updating you on death counts, hotlines for people who suspect that they’re infected, and warnings about not leaving your home for anything but necessities.
The government is scrambling, taking unprecedented measures, in an attempt to help the millions of recently unemployed Americans looking for answers. Restaurants are closing, or offering takeout only, and in places like the Post Office, there are shoe-shaped stickers on the floor showing customers how far apart they should stand.
You’d feel ridiculous wearing a face mask and gloves to get orange juice, soda, peanut butter and bread, except for the fact that everyone else is, too.
And whenever you start thinking that these are stressful times, and you can’t wait until they’re over, you just think: “Thank God the people I love are okay…”
And if there were ever a time when a stream, river, pond or beach offered a welcome escape from the stress of everyday life to a greater degree than it does during this Coronavirus epidemic, I haven’t lived through it.
The photo above is from the Moose River between Otter Lake, and Thendara, New York, taken a week ago, today.
The trout weren’t cooperating (or, more likely, since I’ve never fished the Moose before this year, I was working the wrong stretch), but I can remember few times in my life when it felt better to just cast into moving water.
Perhaps it’s because the post office, grocery store, supermarket, and highways are either empty or sparsely populated with terrified neighbors, and it’s a disconcerting reminder of our global predicament.
But an empty trout stream looks exactly as it’s supposed to: It’s the one thing that still feels normal, right now.
I want you to know that if you’re behind a glass barricade so that we can get our groceries, if you’re working in an ambulance, at a police office, a post office or a restaurant so we can maintain some semblance of normality in our own lives, I’m grateful for you and saying a prayer for you.
And if you’re on the water, whether it’s after trout, those first migratory stripers that will be showing up in New Jersey, pike, pickerel or panfish, I hope that you have more luck than I did this past week, and I hope you’re reminded that being a fisherman is a gift, a truth that is perhaps more evident now than it ever has been in the past.