by Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner
I may be dating myself a bit, but I really loved the TV show “Seinfeld.” One of my favorite lines came from George Costanza’s father caterwauling “serenity now, serenity now!” in the back of a car. It was something that his therapist had advised him to say whenever he was under stress to help him relax. Of course, in the show, it was more humorous than helpful and seemed to create more stress than alleviate it.
However, I have found the more I age, the more I need to have scenes I can think of that bring me serenity and peace during tense moments. On my recent trip to Montana, I was fortunate to go fishing one evening on one of my favorite rivers. We have been fishing this river since I can remember and it is always a pleasure to bring friends there. Though it is close to my city, it is not difficult to find a solitary place on the river, giving me the illusion of isolation in the woods.
The thermostat almost hit 100 degrees that day, but when we arrived at the riverside, the temperature had dropped nearly 15 degrees and was comfortable. A gentle breeze soughed through the trees and over the long grass, and cottonwoods danced in the distance. As we neared the river’s edge, I inhaled deeply the unique mossy smell of the river. The gentle gurgling of the water through calmer sections of the river gave way to a faster current and the rushing sound of rapid water. It had begun to cool enough that a fly hatch had begun and fish were rising.
I love getting wet when I fish. I have never understood the desire to stay dry or wear waders. For me, it is an essential part of fishing and I love feeling the cool river water rush past my legs, feeling more a part of the moment than ever. That night, I clambered down the riverbank, waded through a little mud and into the river. I heard a kingfisher’s call and watched it flit around a tree a little ways up the river but was not lucky enough to have it fly past me. I then walked to a part of the river where two branches of it merged and stood calf deep in water, practicing my roll cast. I stood in a hatch of small white flies, watching them fly around me in the fast fading light of the evening and felt fully content.
I hadn’t fished in a year and had little expectation of catching a fish that night. And I didn’t. If I am optimistic, I can believe I lured a fish to rise. For me, though, the joy of being on the river, listening to the water, smelling it, listening to the birds, and watching the light change over the hills was my “catch” for the evening. I will store this memory and bring it out on days when I need to think “serenity now.”
© Ramona Flightner