Yesterday was so beautiful, an absolutely perfect day. I woke up to sunshine and a farm thriving with new life. Chicks are hatching under hens and seedings are sprouting from the soil. The new piglets are starting to show their personalities, and the lambs are becoming part of the flock. The horses are done shedding and have shiny coats, fueled by green grass and curry combs. After morning writing and chores, I grabbed my gear and headed to the river.
The Battenkill has become a balm in these stressful times. When I am there I am able to forget about money and fear and just become a bear looking for fish. Sometimes I run into these sweet retired men who I'm learning the first names of. Since I mostly only fish on weekday mornings, they are my company. They walk by my section of river looking for their own spots, and we chat tips and stories like school kids. I spent an hour and a half without luck that morning, getting a sunburn and feeding the local mosquito population, and then finally landed a brown trout! Fly fishing (to me) has much higher highs and lower lows than bait or spin-reel fishing and that one fish felt like a fantastic win. I released him back into the water with a thank you.
I came home to catch up on illustration work. I'm still waiting to hear back from all my design clients so there wasn't much else to do but package soap orders I'm still catching up on, and try and promote what I have to offer. It's been almost a week since I made a sale now, but there has been encouragement here everyday for writing and that's been comforting. You might think those single dollars aren't much, but they are so much more than you know. Some of you even sent tips or encouraged me to buy another sandwich! What I did buy yesterday after the river because of you folks: a whole watermelon and a beefsteak tomato. I'll explain why later.
If you're one of the two people that did that yesterday, thank you. Thank you more than you could possibly know!
After freelance work I did my rounds outside, carrying buckets and hay bales, tending the animals and taking the dogs out on the path. I took the dogs down to the stream so they could cool off too, and was delighted to see baby trout in there, swirling around my feet.
The stream on my property is so overgrown with wild roses and honeysuckle, all thorns and vines. yesterday I started clearing it so you can walk along it. the goal is to clear the whole thing, but I think I only got a few yards done so far. Still, it felt good. It felt so good to start getting unstuck down there, finding a way out. It felt good to see the young trout, a cycle of growth and seasons magically swirling around my clumsy feet. It felt good to get hot and sweaty. I said a quiet prayer for a gentle June. I asked for better luck to carry me through to the solstice.
While I was out there, covered in bleeding thorn scrapes and bug bites, I realized I had everything done on my to-do list for the day. I was waiting on a new research topic for the next script, had taken care of all illustration clients and farm needs, so I texted my friend Andrew to see if he wanted to go fishing? His wife Katie hinted he was wanting to go and I had a hunch that the river would be pretty empty of anglers because of the town's hot air balloon festivities and block party. He was game!
Talk about luck, hoo! We showed up at the river around 5:45 PM and people walking back to their cars with tubes and wet swimsuits announced that the DEC just stocked the entire river with trout! When Andrew and I got to the water, I cast my fly rod and he cast his spin and we BOTH got a fish on our first try side by side! It was EPIC!
We spent the evening fishing together, both taking our daily creel limit, for our dinner tables. And I got to work on my skills in hooking (I am decent at casting and finding fish, it's getting them hooked I need more work on) and we fished for an hour or so. It didn't have the same rush of catching that brownie this morning, which took so much patience and trying, but damned if I didn't love being out there in the heat on the river with a friend. He didn't even laugh when I slipped and fell in.
I came home with a wet ass and huge grin. The farm feeling like a postcard of the life I always wanted. My heart swelled up like that scene in the Grinch, where it gets three sizes too big. I walked the dogs around the animals stations and gardens. The weather hinted at a storm and I got as excited as a first date. I live my life for summer days like this.
The thunder and wind came. While it stormed I enjoyed the kind of meal you usually only get to read about in books. I had a BLT I'd been thinking about for days. Toasted slices of my neighbor Linda's sourdough, which she dropped off Thursday in exchange for a dozen eggs. My farm's bacon and lettuce and the tomato I grabbed at the store slathered with mayo and seasoning. It was FANTASTIC! Oh, I savored every crumb! And a dessert of ripe watermelon?! Who am I?! ROYALTY?! I just let myself love everything about that meal. I even added watermelon juice to some ginger ale and bitters for a summer mocktail.
Before the day ended I got a cool mint shower, changed the sheets on my little bed earlier, and curled into them, clean and crisp. I felt that buzzing all over my skin, the heat from a healing sunburn. My muscles were sore, my heart was big, the gardens sated, the animals good. I fell asleep believing my luck would change. I fell asleep daring to believe that I can't even imagine how good life can still be. And I fell asleep watching lightning flash at the maple branches outside my window, and hearing the wind chimes sing, and feeling the fan air on my tired body.
I got through winter. I have a home I'll keep fighting for, with streams opening up and baby trout, and wild mint, and chicks, and flowering potato plants, and kind dogs and most important of all - meaning. To have a life that needs you as much as you need it, that's the secret. It's more important than comfort or money, it's having a purpose and being useful. How dare I ask for more.
Summer is here.
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