Thursday, July 16, 2015


The trail leads into the marsh from the edge of the parking lot transitioning first from pavement to hard packed gravel and then to well worn dirt. A short distance from the asphalt a tunnel of sorts is created around the path by stands of old growth trees, scrub brush and vines. As with any path, there are two certainties: something lies behind and something lies ahead. What happens in between is up to the wayfarer.

Light begins to change as day eases into night. The dim coolness of the tunnel is periodically broken by the last bits of the evening sun and its heat weaving through the breeze stirred canopy overhead. The sounds, smells and feel conjure memories of sunsets on dirt roads, the old International Harvester with half a tank of gas, the Shakespeare with a Zebco on it thrown in the back with a box of Mepps Spinners and half a dozen streams with brookies in them to stop at…and “Jack and Diane” on the radio. The summer of ’83, the last time that all things seemed possible.

Off the beaten path and through the grass is the edge of the creek. Along its length as it reaches out to the river proper are a random series of swallows and ditches. The water floods the sod banks and begins to fill the space between the stalks of cord grass and salt hay, transforming the marsh into a different place that exists for a short time every twelve hours and twenty four minutes.

In the distance is the hum of engines and tires on the pavement departed just minutes ago. The sounds of the daily journey between what is and what can be, between making a living and making a life. Looking down into the water a reflection stares back, eyes lock,  each face familiar to the other. Both mouth the words to an old Tom Petty song:

“Sometime later, getting the words wrong
Wasting the meaning, and losing the rhyme…”

Each silently asks the other, “Do you remember?”

The two part ways as life begins to flow with the water from the creek and its fingers over the bank and into the grass. A depression on the marsh floor next to a wide ditch is now filled with water, its glassy surface intermittently disturbed by dancing shrimp and baitfish. Casts are made from a somewhat raised area off to the side in the hopes a striped bass or a shad ventures out of the ditch into this temporary buffet line. In time a wake appears and on the second cast to it the fly is hit almost immediately.

During the release of the shad, in the light of the headlamp, the reflection reappears and asks again, “Do you remember?”

Both watch the fish swim away.

The water’s edge is the border, the difference between one who does and one who does not. Standing here right now, caught in the middle, each step deeper into the marsh another step away from one and closer to the other.

North River, MA
Summer of '15

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