Friday, November 23, 2012


My niece was game for a 5:30 a.m. start on Thanksgiving Day, eager to chase the wild steelhead I've led her to believe are the Holy Grail of fly fishing. Like her brother, she is a delightful companion, easy-going and good-natured, and not afraid of a little cold water.

We eased into the river, marveling at the quiet, the egrets, and the sunlight sparkling in the morning fog. We made our way over and around the river bottom's Dali-esque clayheads, mossy rocks, and the debris common to our urban river, those ubiquitous chunks of concrete and rebar, golf balls and metal cans.

Once in casting range of our target run, we settled into the rhythm that makes swinging such a satisfying method of fly fishing. Taking turns with the spey rod, we took a morning walk down the middle of the river.

I found myself hoping we'd begun a Thanksgiving tradition.

This morning, there was an e-mail waiting in my in-box from Trout Unlimited. As is so often the case, it contained the right words to describe yesterday's experience. John Muir's words.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."

We were home by mid-morning, frozen toes and all, and joined in the rhythm of the kitchen and the oven, the cutting board and the grill; greeted the aunties and the uncles and the grandparents bearing food and wine and good will. Tradition.