Finally I gave up. Chena, a dog, a puppy no less, had won the waiting contest...
|Fishing With Chena III
Friday evening I get home from work and discover that we have the grandsons for the weekend. This is a bit odd since we had them last weekend and generally we don’t see them on back to back weekends. Apparently their Mom pays attention to the weather forecasts, and I know that Grandma doesn’t. We were slated to have rain ALL weekend. I can just imagine that Mom didn’t want two rowdy boys between her feet all weekend and knowing that Grandma doesn’t mind and doesn’t watch the weather, talked her into it. I had been looking forward to a nice, quiet, rainy weekend holed up in the house with a good book. Oh well, best laid plans and all that…..
Friday night it started raining. It rained all night. Saturday it rained ALL day. ALL day the boys were in the house. No way could they go outside and do their yelling and screaming and running and bouncing and gyrating and talking and asking ten thousand questions an hour and fussing and fighting and running and shouting and…... No, Grandma wouldn’t let them go outside and get sick. Apparently though it’s perfectly acceptable for Grandpa to go outside and get sick. In point of fact it appeared to be preferable to Grandma that Grandpa went outside and even better stayed out there. I could tell this by the way she stood there holding the door open with her foot while making frantic waving motions with both arms at me. She can get real grouchy when she is penned up with two raving maniac little boys. Go figure.
About an hour before sunset the rain took a break. I got a bowl of dog food and took it to the back porch and called Chena. While she was eating I grabbed one of the many mysteriously appearing fly rods (once I got hooked on flyfishing I was buying rods like crazy for awhile, and I swore to my wife that I had no idea who was sending them to me, she wasn't fooled of course but she let me off the hook anyway) and slipped out the front door and down into the river. Ahhhhhh, the peace and quiet was fantastic. Soothing. The rain had driven the sane people, everyone except me, indoors. But then my Grandsons weren’t visiting them, were they? The water soaked woods absorbed all sounds except for one dove off in the distance. There was a fine mist floating in the air, not quite up to a drizzle, that also soaked up sounds. The only thing I could hear was the dove and the faint sound of the water softly flowing over the rocks downstream. Heaven. Pure Heaven.
The river, for the first time in months, was actually cool. Cool enough that there was a little shock on wading in, and an adjustment period until it felt normal. After months of summer water as warm as spit, it was marvelous. The water wasn’t crystal clear anymore either, the rain runoff had given it just a slight bit of haze. I could still see the gravel in the bottom, but not as clearly as previously. The overcast and the mist and the time of day made the light as soft as the mist. This was so different from the past three or four months that it was like being on another planet. From scorching hot and dusty with hard bright sunlight to cool and misty and soft light, what a change! Wonderful, in other words.
I cast a fly for awhile and caught two small bluegills and one large one. I had moved upriver to the “squirrel hole” (every good fishing spot has a nickname) and then back down again to our place. I caught the large one just in front of our place in the "goat hole". That one was a surprise. I had not caught anything out of the goat hole in a long time, and had been casting really just to be casting and to extend my stay in the river. One of the best things about fly fishing is that the casting is as much fun as the catching. Casting a fly and dropping it exactly where you want it to drop, and the way you want it to drop, can be an end in itself. At least it is to me. So when the big bluegill hit it was a complete surprise. It was about 10 inches long and he fought every inch of the way in, and against the current as well. It was an excellent rod bending, line throbbing fight. He didn’t have an ounce of back up in him at any time, and actually doubled up his efforts when he saw me up close. I thoroughly enjoyed that catch. I also enjoyed releasing him back into the river, hoping to catch him another time.
I decided to wade on downstream about 50 yards to the creek mouth and try a couple of casts up into it where that tree had fallen in last winter; I have pulled a few good fish out of that spot. You have to cast just right, into a tight little spot surrounded by water hydrilla on one side and tree branches on the other sides. This is not an easy cast because it is easy to get tangled in the tree branches or the hydrilla. This is a challenging cast, difficult under the best of conditions and impossible if the wind is up too high; no wind today though. I have managed to drop a fly in there and pull out a nice fish on a few occasions, so it is a favorite stop.
As I was wading down towards the creek Chena spotted me and came running. SPLOOOSH she hit the water like a cannon ball and churned water all the way to me. Then she got right in front of me and stopped moving.
I took a step to the right to go around her and she moved forward and to the right. I moved left and she moved left. I couldn’t walk without bumping into her and pushing her forward. In the past week I think she has put on another 5 pounds, I am guessing but I think she is up around 60 pounds now. She kept watching to see where I would go so that she could deliberately get in my way. I don’t know why, she does this. She does it on dry land sometimes too. I guess in her mind it is a game; not one I enjoy but it does seem to give her great pleasure so I don't fuss at her too much about it.
Finally I made it to the creek mouth and she just stood there right in front of me. I didn’t want to try casting with her that close. I couldn’t get her to move off no matter what I said or how much I pushed her. She just stood there. I was stymied. Then I had a brilliant idea, I would outwait her. She is a puppy after all, and full of energy and I figured that sooner or later she would get bored and go do something, somewhere else. It was a beautiful evening and I was in no hurry to go back inside that asylum of caged children who were being guarded from possible harm by an irritable Grandma; so I would just be patient and still and wait and Chena would leave and I would be able to cast. Yeah, that was it, that's all it would take.
Chena wasn’t going anywhere but she was watching the fly on the end of my line. She still chases bugs around the yard, so I watch her around my fly outfit. I don’t want to have to pull a hook out of her. In order to keep her from making a sudden lunge at my fly, I rolled the end of the line and the leader up a bit and held them against the rod and put the rod up over my shoulder. Then I started waiting. It was a pleasant wait.
I was facing down river and could just barely see the bend. The misting rain in the air and the soft evening light made everything fade out at just that distance. It was like looking at eternity. There are trees lining both banks and some of them were just starting to turn colors. The water in between the tree lined banks had a satin sheen from the falling mist. The only disturbance of the surface were the small ripples where the water ran over the rocks, making that faint rushing sound. There was cool water flowing around my legs and feet. The cool wet air was a real pleasure to breathe, given the past several months of desert dry hot air. The even air smelled good, the way it does when it rains.
It was all just right to send me into a state of zen like suspended animation. I was just standing there soaking it all in, enjoying every one of my five senses. Not moving much at all, except to occasionally adjust my grip on the fly rod and move it a little here and there to adjust the balance. I think I stood there for 30 minutes without moving an inch. I was enjoying just being there, living in the moment; while waiting for Chena to get bored and to move off.
But Chena just stood there too, not moving. I swear that dog can tell what I want her to do and then she does exactly the opposite. I stood there longer yet, and she still didn’t move. I waited a good while longer more and so did she, not moving a muscle. There we stood, like two statutes and it was starting to get dark. Lord I hoped no one was watching us.
Finally I gave up. Chena, a dog, a puppy no less, had won the waiting contest. I am still amazed that she could stand that still for that long. Could she be a reincarnated Buddhist? She meditates better than I do. I have never seen her that still before; even when she was sleeping she would at least twitch once in awhile. In a battle of wills I was bested by a dog. The shame.
I decided that I might as well try to cast with her standing there and just hope for the best, so I took my rod off my shoulder and tried to shake my line out. That's when I noticed that I had somehow gotten my leader looped around the reel and my hand in such a way as to create a big loose knot. I didn’t have my reading glasses with me (critical mistake on my part) and the light was dim, so it was hard to see where the leader crossed over itself, or if it was crossing under itself. I started to undo the tangle.
I made it worse, and then worse again, and even worse yet as I kept working on it. Chena, watched this for a couple of minutes and then, finally, she left to explore the bank on the other side of the creek. Right, now she leaves! I believe that she knew I was going to be awhile with the tangle and she decided she could go do a bit of exploring and get back in time to stand in my way when I finally I could cast again. She was nearly right too. Finally, finally I got the leader untangled and was able to make some casts into the creek mouth without having to cast around her. I only had time for a few before it started getting dark. Darkness was coming on fast in those overcast conditions.
I turned to head home and whistled at Chena. She stopped chasing around in the weeds and looked up at me with real surprise, as though she couldn’t believe that I wasn’t still untangling the line. I turned to go and she took off running down the bank like a streak. That dog can flat out run. She guns it like a greyhound and really stretches out. She isn’t nearly as clumsy as she used to be. She hit the water at about 200mph and then accelerated. She ran straight to me with water splashing high in the air all around her like big diamonds, her eyes intently focused on me, and with a big dopey grin on her face, and she kept on coming as fast and as hard as she could. All the way.
I heard some maniac laughing out loud, and realized it was me. It was all too good to not be laughing. Seeing her plowing the water with that big grin of hers, it was as though I had caught her at her own game and she was glad that I had finally gotten smart enough to do it. She was so beautiful and so happy and so intent on setting a new personal speed record, and the evening around her was magic. It was one of those moments that will remain frozen in time forever; a mental photograph that I will never stop enjoying.
We went on up the bank then, with her zigging and zagging in front of me to keep me from walking in full steps. Damn dog.