After a winter of despair, spring is the season of hope. Winter is the set-up, spring, the punch line. We can laugh now about our shovel-sprained backs, and smile at the intrepid tulips pushing up through the rain-softened loam. For the outdoorsman, it’s the season of promise.
The great radio personality, (back when they were craftsmen, not carnival barkers), Jean Shepard, used to describe how the impending summer vacation loomed in a kid’s eye. He described it as a giant iceberg, whole and untouched. Complete in its shimmering aqua-green splendor and vast beyond comprehension. It’s only when you’re into the season that you see how quickly it all goes. How fast it all melts away.
For me, the season of anticipation isn’t summer, though. It’s spring. When the lakes and streams open up again, and the woods slough off their deep snow pack. I look forward to it all winter long. You’d think I’d be prepared.
To be fair, we made the most of the winter, taking the boys downhill skiing, skating, cross-country skiing, sledding and snow shoeing. We had some epic explorations along boggy creeks that are only possible when the ground is frozen. We found beaver dams, fresh otter drag marks, muskrat dens, mouse holes in the deep woods, coyote and fox tracks, and on one walk, three owl pellets within a quarter mile.
But now, the snowshoes are piled up on the porch, the skis and poles splayed like a tornado just hit, and assorted sleds litter the yard as if a tsunami just washed them up. This will soon be swapped out for the spring and summer gear. Rain boots and waders will be piled up on the porch, fishing poles and paddles splayed everywhere, canoes and kayaks washed up across the lawn.
The gear changes, the filing system doesn’t.
My intentions were good throughout the off-season. I planned some lure-making sessions, some fly-tying, some boat maintenance, and to finally repair the growing pile of busted, bent, and neglected paddles. Not a single item on this list was accomplished. Not even started.
That said, I wasn’t completely dormant over the winter. I did what any enterprising (read cheap) sportsman would do; I went trolling on Craigslist. For sporting gear only - God’s honest truth. With the sole exception of old enamel woodstoves. And vintage bicycles. And Gibson mandolins. And free firewood for the camp.
Happily, I found some goodies over the last few months. An old Orvis bamboo flyrod and a Hardy reel – with its willowy action, a perfect boat rod for rising trout. A cute little twelve-foot canoe, dented and forlorn, and fat as a pumpkin seed. This is the boat that I’ve long envisioned as the craft for a float down the Kayaderosseross, from the headwaters all the way to Saratoga Lake. Maybe this is the year I’ll actually do it.
My other notable CL find is a massive, multi-drawered fly tying chest. It’s sitting in my barn, square in the middle of the only navigable pathway through the mounds of - what most people refer to as -“junk.” I’ll probably trip over it while carrying an armful of snowshoes from the front porch.
This obsessive collecting fills the need for the actual doing. Now that we’re into the nascent spring season, these things will now become the means to an end. They provide the wherewithal to make a foray down a brushy stream. To pursue those finicky trout with cool antique tackle. To share a wider appreciation of the outdoor life with my boys. After a season of walking in the shadow of winter, we’ve turned a corner and caught the sun full on our faces.
Perhaps this is the year that my oldest takes his first trout on a dry fly. Maybe it’s the year we all ascend a high peak. Or tour the Erie Canal by bike or boat, another longstanding dream. And that’s the essence of the season change: Spring is about realizing the dreams we brood over in winter.
We finally got out for a spell last Saturday with our well-used but poorly maintained tackle. The line was kinked, reels chirped like birdcalls for oil, and the net had disappeared over the winter. But the old engine started right up, and it was great to be out on the open water once again. There wasn’t a fish to be found anywhere. But it didn’t matter. We’d turned the corner.
Jon Wurtmann is a freelance copywriter and creative director based in Saratoga Springs, NY. He is trained in Persuasive Copywriting, and writes websites, direct mail, catalogs, white papers, magazine stories, and articles. He specializes in Software as a Service, High Tech, Higher Education, Building and Development, Travel & Tourism, Outdoor Recreation, and yes, Medical. He has a stronger stomach than he lets on. See more of his work at http://www.landing.net
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