A Dance of Life

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

“Vigor of youth,” they call it, and it vows to never end.
Cheap hackle ads, a Bergman book, pop music loud at work…
A creek ‘tween cornfields rumored to hold browns north of the bend;
I watched from near the guardrail silver flashes in the murk.

True trout streams…

…they were mythical, I knew, were paradise;
I’d make thousand-mile trips out to the mountains for to find.
I would thrill to see clear snowmelt dance ‘cross stones before my eyes,
And would conjure them at nighttime through the meadows of my mind.

And a 2AM arising wouldn’t rouse a single flinch,
Slapping flies upon the water that I’d found snagged on some tree;
Holding breath for seven hours, maybe catch one, bare’ an inch,
One the stream gods had bequeathed for all the worship held by me.

But the years have seen erosion; now I partner dreams with doubt.
There are times I stand midcurrent in the freezing winter rain
And can wish I was still sleeping; I can wish I’d not come out;
I can wonder if the dawn’s first kiss is truly worth the pain.

I confess I’ve skipped a long walk down the tree’d side of a run
To where I knew there was a riffle where a log flanked currents deep.
I confess I’ve chose a burger ‘stead of forty casts’ more fun.
I confess I’ve turned the clock’s bell off and rolled over to sleep.

But then…

…I catch again a rift from some old song, some radio,
And I remember waiting at the mailbox for my junk hen cape;
Or a ray of sun caresses amber pebbles ‘neath a flow,
Or a glassy glide reflects a heron landing near to gape.

I’ll hear…

…a splash against the bank where once a caddis fly had twirled,
I’ll glimpse a shadow pass before me, near my boots, not quite in view,
I’ll feel the magic of a tug, sweet contact from the other world,
And the erosion melts away, and I’m naive…and young…anew.

6 thoughts on “A Dance of Life

  1. Mary S. Kuss

    Lovely, Mike. For those who don’t drift away, fly fishing mellows nicely from a grand obsession to a comfortable friendship full of familiar joys and free of demanding urgency. That’s something to be celebrated rather than mourned.

    Reply
    1. Michael Vorhis

      Thanks Mary; yeah…I guess maybe learning to leave behind youthful frailties like impatience and wild expectations and ease into a set of new ones may be a ‘rite of passage’ trial we all face.

      Still I’d like to do a full run through the whole dance again, starting at the beginning…ahh well. : )

      Reply
  2. Joe Dellaria

    Hi Mike,
    I kept promising myself I would read your post tomorrow. At the rate I am going, I won’t hit sixty-five for a decade or more. At any rate, nice job. Fun to read and I agree. I have finally come to grips with the fact that it is better to be lucky than good when it comes to landing a big one (20″ or more). I used to obsess about trying to be at “my spot” at the right time (low light, either early or late) to have a shot at the “big one.” I tried night fishing this year with a similar outcome and finally settle one – get to the river when you can, fish smart and hope for a little luck! Much more relaxing.
    Joe
    Just curious, how long does it take to write something like that?

    Reply
    1. Michael Vorhis

      Hi Joe,

      Now that I know it’s better to be lucky than good, my odds have dramatically increased! But truthfully while tying into a fish of some serious size is exciting, as for myself I’m also pretty happy just fooling wild ones of any size. If I have a lot of takes and bring a number of them to net I consider it a priceless morning. I’m always trying to prove out some new fly idea I’ve whipped up anyway, so when new concepts prove out or even show a little promise I’m happy.

      I nearly always fish early morning–pre-dawn until 11am or so. The upside is that I can actually sneak out of the house at 4am to make the long drive and get a bit of stream time (vs. never getting a chance to fish at all), and the downside is that the fishing usually gets worse throughout the four hours I’m on the water. In that sense evening fishing is better, as the fish become more likely to feed as the sun sinks lower. But we take what we can get. I can’t remember the last time I tried night fishing but in summer I agree it’d be the ticket for the big ones–I’ve heard that topwater mouse patterns can work well at night, a method that might save you from having to cast those huge 12-inch streamers.

      I introduced my 13-year-old daughter to fly fishing last August (she wore my old leaky waders and ended up with a legful of water and one little wild trout to her name, caught on a fly named after her with a wisp of her hair in its tail…it was a great outing). We went from late afternoon to late evening, and it was really nice to know that the feeding would turn on a little beter every minute…which proved to be the case.

      You’re right–main thing is to be on the water at all. Then like you say just fish as smart as we can, and hope for the best…and enjoy whatever happens. If the best thing about the outing is seeing some amazing wood ducks fly low over our head, well then enjoy that.

      You ask how long it takes to write something like this. Well…

      — Deciding whether to express a personal evolution as humor, or a downer, or a poem: 3 hours

      — Making a rough outline of main concepts in the order they must be conveyed: 1 hour

      — Rough-drafting it to the 95% point: 4 hours

      — Choosing & photoshopping an image: 2 hours

      — Swapping out lesser words for better ones: A night’s worth of mulling & culling in the subconscious

      — Realizing the personal evolution has been occurring at all: 65 years

      Thanks for reading Joe!

      – Mike

      Reply
  3. Joe Dellaria

    Hi Mike,
    My pleasure to read the piece.
    I was guessing you had some serious time into the piece. I have written numerous things (other than my blogs). I stopped rereading them after they publish as I can always find a better way to say something or a word that works better. Writing is never done! Thankfully, there is a deadline than terminates the “perfecting phase.”
    We are in the midst of a sub-zero stretch so it has been nearly a month since I made it to the stream. I am getting anxious to get back on the water.
    All the best, Joe

    Reply
    1. Michael Vorhis

      Hey Joe,

      All my articles average nearly 30 hours each, all-told, including images and polishing (& now and then I have to send an updated version in or beg for a late fix because I’d missed a typo or accidentally implied something inaccurate, try as I might to get it to 100% before submission). But I don’t count because it’s a pleasure to share theories, research topics for fellow anglers, and collect my own thoughts through the process. The two poems I’ve submitted actually took less keyboard time (don’t worry, I know poetry is a hard sell in our crowd, I only risk it when I just can’t shake an idea…I promise I won’t make a habit of it).

      You hit the nail on the head Joe, and you’re in great company in so doing, because Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished; it is only abandoned.” There comes a point in time when an article, book, photo or drawing is ready to stand on its own feet out in the world…and we just have to cut ‘er loose. Our crowd here is pretty gracious though and accepts what another angler tosses up on the board. I always appreciate the readers here, and everybody else’s work–for example when I see you’ve posted something I can’t wait to read it…it’s always really useful material and has style as well.

      Got skunked last weekend–there’s a day I won’t be writing any articles about.

      – Mike

      Reply

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