Sunday, April 27, 2008

What I Like About Spring

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There are many unimportant things in life, but one I attach a great deal of importance to, is spring.

I hate the ordeal of spring house cleaning and putting up the screens and taking off storm windows, but smelling skunk cabbage and seeing the first trilliums peek up through a carpet of last fall’s leaves is a major happening. The trials and tribulations of most of spring’s never-ending rains are past (I hope), and although spring mud on back roads can be a hassle, I don’t getting my car filthy if it can help me track down a gobbler.

Spring brings more than its share of strong winds, but there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting along a river bank and listening to the wind sough through the branches. I rejoice in a warm spring day, those that offer a dose of spring fever, and they eat away at leftover winter stress.

One enjoyable spring chore is rigging out a boat for trolling. Mechanical work is not for me, but I’ll putter all day changing the lower unit gear grease in an outboard motor, replacing spark plugs and fine-tuning the engine for slow-speed trolling. For good fishing I’ll even get my hands dirty with grease. My wife shakes her head at my little idiosyncrasies

Such things become a matter of sorting out one’s priorities.

I enjoy watching bluegills spawn in skinny water, and like to watch red-wing blackbirds flying across a duck marsh. I like to see the trees bud out and the world green up in a renewal of life. The lilacs are due to bloom soon, and I know the flowers will attract the ruby-throated hummingbirds that bring me pleasure every year.

Overcrowding on our trout streams isn’t the problem it was before high gas prices, and I wait patiently for the many trout lakes to turn on later this month and next. More and more people have taken up fishing, which is good, but some people develop poor fishing habits, which is bad. I see too much selfishness on our lakes and streams, and too little compassion and consideration for the dreams and desires of other anglers.

I like solitude, peace and quiet on trout streams and dislike the crowded hustle and bustle that accompany trying to find a weekend place to fish. I love to cast to a specific fish that can be seen and dislike having to consider elbowing my way into what seemingly is the only spot on the stream to hold fish. In fact, I passionately dislike the latter situation so much that I’ll take a hike with rod and reel in hand, and if I find an open spot, I’ll fish. If I find just more and more people, I’ll drive many miles to achieve my oneness with the water by being alone.

I dislike junk fishing equipment and waders that leak. I enjoy my new insulated waders even though they look like dead marsh grass, and welcome the feel of a fine fly rod as I shoot line to cover a trout. I thrill each time to the soft but sibilant swishing sound a fly line makes as I make a back cast and power the line forward.

I dislike raking leaves and cleaning rain gutters or the junk in my yard that apparently falls from the sky with winter snow, but I do enjoy sorting through my fly-fishing vest. The thought of cleaning out the garage is appalling, but given the choice between hauling trash and cleaning three fly reels and four spinning reels, I’ll choose the latter every time.

For years I heated with wood and burned some 25 face cords of maple each winter. I always knew I should tackle the cutting and splitting of wood while the weather was cool but it always seemed more important to let other more meaningful chores get in my way. So, the result for about 25 years was to put off the wood cutting until the summer heat hit 90 degrees. And even then, if the browns were hitting offshore I could be tempted to put off this chore for just one more day.

Summer light-line trolling is fun, and productive, but there’s something about my first trolling trip each spring that leaves me breathless with anticipatory excitement. Spring can make fishing dreams come true.

My wife wants help with the rock garden she wants in that vacant area we call the front yard, and last summer I gathered rocks from five-pounders to some weighing over 100 pounds. But you see, turkey hunting starts tomorrow. I will help with the rocks as soon as the season ends. I promise, cross my heart.

But, between now and then, there are priorities in life to be handled. And if we are to live the outdoor life of fishing and hunting, priorities become very important, and I know where mine begin and end.

And it’s not cleaning out the attic. Gotta go because there’s gear to get ready for tomorrow’s hunt and it won’t take care of itself. See what I mean about priorities? The important things in life always come first, right?

Posted by Dave Richey on 04/27 at 04:15 PM
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