Fifty one years ago it was raining on the day I was born. I’ve been drawn to water ever since. Brook, stream, pond, lake, river, ocean. I’ve swum them, paddled them, sailed them, climbed some when frozen and fished them. I’ve gone to the water at the highs, lows and idle times in my life. Water holds my memories. People come and go, jobs change, decisions alter courses…the water is always there.
So it’s no coincidence I’ve lived near the ocean since moving to Boston’s south shore nearly twenty years ago. We recently moved into our new home near the South River and within earshot of the waves crashing the beach out front. I spent the first nine years living in Marshfield fishing the South, the last seven on the North. Trying to work on the house knowing there are fish cruising the mud flats just a few hundred yards away has been tormenting.
For over a month Jill and I have spent every spare minute unpacking, painting, fixing something old or building something new. With the number of “projects” getting smaller the decision to take a day and get on the water without feeling guilty is getting easier. Last night we made a plan, doubled up on coffee at first light this morning and headed for the South.
We splashed the kayaks at the ramp and headed downriver riding the tail of the dropping tide. The river was covered in a thin fog but illuminated by the sun above it as if it were shining a light on both the past and present.
I made a few casts along the way but spent most of the paddle out reacquainting myself with the river and reading the subtle changes in her appearance as I would the face of a friend I hadn’t seen in several years.
We made it to one of my favorite pieces of water just before slack tide and I threw a fly into one of my old go-to/sure-thing spots. The structure around it had been altered with time, tide and storms. It felt unfamiliar. After reading the changes in the sod bank and adjusting my cast the rod bowed to a South River schoolie. I’ve caught striped bass all over New England; schoolies in the South fight like they’re ten pounds heavier. It must be the water.
At slack tide we beached the kayaks and walked the flats back into the marsh. Thoughts of mornings spent there working with my dogs to sit-stay while I made cast after cast flooded my mind. We passed a small piece of water where my daughter, probably five years old at the time, reeled in a small striper I had hooked up. These events happened years ago but standing there I could still feel the moments of each.
We followed a small creek that holds water at low. It’s more like a ditch but there are a few deep holes that used to hold a fish or two. They still do. Each one that I tossed a fly into rewarded me with a tight line and bent rod.
Walking back to the kayaks, as the tide came rushing back in over the flats to cover the foot prints we left behind, I smiled knowing the water holds my memories.
And the water is always there.
South River, MA
8 October 2016