Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last Trout

Maine’s open-water season on trout ends today, September 30. So I went trout fishing. April 1, opening day, is a cheery holiday for me but September 30 rings with sweet, melancholy thoughts about fast-vanishing days, weeks, months and years.

It seems like only yesterday that I arose in the pre-dawn hours, dressed in heavy clothing to ward off the cold and headed for the nearest trout stream. There, I was rewarded with several icy, lethargic but nonetheless appreciated, brook trout. That’s opening day. Today was different, though.

In April, anticipation fills the spirit. Every little sign of green, every swelling bud and each brilliantly-colored brook trout that takes my hook, betokens the coming, new life. The sweet air, pregnant with possibilities and promise, buoys my soul and enlivens my step. Today, though, things are in reverse.

I love brook trout. To me, nothing that God ever created matches their form and beauty. A casual observer might say that all brook trout look the same. They do not. Yes, all have certain characteristics and those include white piping on the leading edge of pectoral, ventral and anal fins, yellow dots interspersed with red dots inside of blue halos and wavy vermiculations on the back. But these standard features vary from fish to fish.

Trout of late September are nearly ready for spawning and their colors are twice as brilliant as in spring. Each individual fish might serve as a subject for a great painter, each one remarkable as a thing of exceeding beauty. So while I feel a bit sad because the season ends today, I know that in six months, I will once again climb out of bed in the blackness of early morning and head for that little trout stream, there to fulfill a promise and re-enact a ritual that I have participated in for many, many years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Life In The Face of Death

Fall signals the end of green, living things. Or does it? Even now as autumn leaves turn yellow, orange and purple, plants are putting energy into their next incarnation.

Look at any perennial plant. There, at its base, grows a little package of life, the nascent plant of next growing season. Trees and shrubs, too, work to perpetuate their productive lives. As chlorophyll production dwindles and finally ceases, new buds form. These will brave winter cold and dessicating winds. And sometime next spring, the little buds we see now will unfold, making good, reassuring us regarding the eternal promise of continuity and continuance.