Fishing the Morning Lonely

July 2021

I have only recently returned from camp after spending Father’s Day week there, with my eldest daughter Kara and her husband Peter. The weather at camp was in and out every day – partly cloudy in the morning and a bit of afternoon rain. Weather notwithstanding, there were plenty of fish—trout and bass. Sharing a 20-foot grand canoe with one of your kids is a great opportunity for communication— neither of you have anywhere to run. But those few moments in time when father and daughter talk to each other looking directly into each other’s eyes are worth all the effort. This floating trip was a first for us both down the Mattawamkeag River from Danforth to the Bridge at Drew Plantation. Kara and I had done a similar float trip in Montana when she was a teenager. Casting to the shore and that instant take on top of the water is very thrilling. Keeping my balance is a bit of a challenge but I did not fall in this time. Greg, our fishing guide, paddled most of the way with a bit of help from the 8 HP motor to get us home for dinner. The day ended with a few casts off the dock and to my surprise I hooked a fat bass right off the rocks no more than 20 feet from camp. The flight home from Bangor was calm and uneventful–the cell turned off and the NY Times in hand catching up on news after a week of
withdrawal. The weather on my return was cool and unceremoniously dismal for July 4 . I thought of making a fire in the library. I went down to the basement and sought out the wood pile that had lain unused during covid, hidden in the corner behind cartons of stored clothes. The warmth from the fire was a charm and reminded me of so many evenings at camp, ensconced with a good book in front of the hearth. I looked among the shelves in the library for something to read. On the shelf to my right was a collection of books on fishing that I had accumulated since the early 1970s. Scanning the titles I came to a small book of poems, Fishing the Morning Lonely by George Mendoza. I glanced through it and fell upon the title poem, which so beautifully captures the serene sense of perspective one gains when immersed in nature.

“Fishing the morning lonely / I’m looking up at the sky / telling myself / why I’m who and how do you do / black and yellow waxwing / why can’t I fly like you…

Fishing the morning lonely / is dreaming in the sky / and looking at your face in a milkweed ball and packing up all your possessions / in the petals of a flower / Don’t look for me
for I’m clear through / invisible / when I’m on the river /fishing the morning lonely”

I often fish the morning lonely at camp, in the very early hours of the day. Before anyone at camp arises, I head out to the dock and cast off among the rocks where the bass rest. Always a short cast with a yellow hopper. A ratty old fly tied by a fisherman of old, handed down to me by his grandkids when they cleaned out the garage for a yard sale. There are plenty of these yard sales in my town now now that many of the old families are selling off to New Yorkers who want a piece of the Hamptons. Grandpa’s old grease-covered fly box filled with handmade rusty lures and some flies—his grandkids remembered that I fish and they dropped the box off at my office. What an amazing gift. I use them all the time. In fact, I am trying to duplicate some of them with a beginner’s fly-tying kit from Orvis. I will fish the morning lonely for as long as I can fix my early morning coffee and walk unassisted down to the dock for the first cast of the day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: