I'm standing in shoulder high thistles, mosquitoes buzzing around. Two wet dogs are tromping between the muddy bank, the river and the drift boat. I'm holding some poles and my backpack, trying to figure out how to manage to get into the boat. Once I mentally gave up staying dry, I joined the dogs, splashing through the water and onto the boat.
The boat launch was packed with guys in fly fishing equipment. A line of at least 8 pickups with boats on trailers were waiting to be put in the water. Dogs were running around. Fishing gear was everywhere. I didn't notice there weren't any women around, until a fisherman mentioned under his breath that it was nice to see a woman fly fishing. I paused a moment, to wonder what I had gotten myself into!
It was Dad's idea. He got into fly fishing several years ago and after lots of research, decided to get a driftboat. The guys who built his boat (the totally awesome team from Boulder Boat Works) were having their first annual get together on the Big Horn in Montana. Last month Dad asked me if I wanted to come along on the fishing trip. Now, I haven't been fishing for at least 20 years. Maybe 30 years. I had lots of reasons to stay at home and work, workaholic I am. Then I realized, opportunities like this don't come along. You never know how long your old man is going to be around. And there's always that Harry Chapin song (Cats in the Cradle) that I vowed never to be a reflection of my life. So I said yes, booked a ticket and packed my bags.
Back to the Big Horn. I'm in a boat with two guys I've just met and their two dogs. The dogs make me really happy and Chris and Jeremy turn out to be totally cool guys. I chill in the back of the boat as they take turns rowing and fishing. I'm watching them cast and catch, learning to watch the water, read the fish, how the boat moves on the river. There are so many things I'm missing, I realize with an offhand remark about cicadas.
But I'm channeling my zen mind, beginner mind. I've achieved all my goals just being here. Of course I try my hand at fly fishing and slowly get the hang of it. It's physics! I look into the river, muddy clear, and see the river grass (reminding me of the opening Solaris shot) and rocks. I watch the banks, the cottonwoods. I think of Chicken John, Huckleberry Finn and Farcasters. I think about the River Tethys and how that journey may have been inspired by my immediate experience. I have found other inspirations for Simmon's novels - mostly in my beloved Mojave or The Stars My Destination.
Later that night, back on dry land; a group assembles and we drink beers as the full moon rises. So much for the scheduled Perseid showers! But in the light of the full moon, I listen to hunter stories. I am fascinated. I'm the odd man out - first being a chick, and secondly being from Hollywood. But I can hold my own. How far I have come. I drink in their stories. I listen to them talk about hunting elk on the mountain. In my mind I see them spending cold nights, stalking the elk as he backtracks leading them on a circular trail. I see how much they respect the animal. Nature. The Mountain. I'm in awe.
Under a full Montana Moon a door opens and I am transported to another reality. A world so different, so fascinating, so new, so inspiring, so beautiful. The stories reverberate in my mind still. Thank you!
"I went. I went and took. What did I leave in return? My change." - the quotable h