Until There Are No More Springs
Updated: Jun 8
The first grey hues of dusk begin to settle in, like a house guest who finally unpacks and eases into a comfy chair to share conversation and an unhurried cocktail.
There are bugs in the thick, damp air. Air that forever in my mind recollects June in Michigan. But they are still hovering high.
I wait patiently on the bank and burn a cigarette. Tendrils of slate-blue smoke curl up and hang heavy just above my head. It reminds me of the mist that used to linger over the lake when dad would wake me up early to search for largemouth that patrolled the Lily pads.
The mayflies seem hung up too, or maybe I'm just projecting.
I wait a little longer. Perhaps in vain, I worry. Once again looking to the sky for answers, as is habit among anglers.
But eventually the ritual begins; spinners dot the diffused horizon, first a few, and then more, and then hundreds. Quick copulation, like an inmate's final conjugal visit – celebrating fleeting out-of-water freedom before they fall, their sentences served. Mating and dying. A beginning, an ending, and a beginning again. The cycle repeats, like phases of the moon or the changing of one season to the next, until there are no more springs.
Noses break the slick surface in subtle rings, as life expired becomes life nourished. I slip quietly into the water and tease out a measure of line.
The river wraps around my feet like the silky loop of a lariat and whispers "this way.”
So I follow.
Her cool touch seeps through, and I shiver.
Fireflies wink on and off, on and off. Coded messages sent into the distant future from eight-year-old me, only to be deciphered at this exact moment.
Here, in the river, I find myself looking through younger eyes with wonder and anticipation too often lost.
Here, alone with my thoughts, the mesmerizing thrum of wild places still quickens the senses. The vitality of life and inevitable certainty of death witnessed with clarity.
I contemplate my own brief existence. How I will eventually return to the soil and the grass and the bugs and the trout and the river.
I think to the future and wonder what this special place will hold for my own children and their children and their children's children. What will become of this tender river and the solace found only here in her embrace?
I make a few casts to a rising fish, miss, and light another cigarette.
Satisfied I pack up, take one last longing look, and walk out.
Fireflies send their coded messages and I nod. Until there are no more springs, I have the river.