September 9th, 2002

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Five Minutes
By Damon Sheneman, Pheonix Arizona

A bad day in the lab can ruin two weeks of research. Now I will have to continue my summer project into the school year to finish it. That won't be easy carrying 30 credits in medical school. To make matters worse, I'm in Phoenix until I graduate in three years. The only trout within 200 miles are hatchery harvest packed on ice in the grocery store meat department. They aren't even pretty to look at with their dull colors and their fins rubbed off. The only bright side is that it is Friday and it is my anniversary. Of course, that means I have to replace this mood I'm in.

Six miles isn't long enough for the air conditioner to cool the car down after sitting in the Arizona sun all day long. I come inside and try to act happy, but she can tell. Finally I just tell her I need five minutes and I go to my den. I plop down in that ugly green chair in the corner that is so comfortable, turn off the light and turn on the fan. I need to go to my special place for a while.

Almost closing my eyes, I squint through the piercing sunlight barely able to see. The reflection from the water makes it even harder. The river is wide and hallow but narrows through a bend and becomes almost too deep to wade. Right at this spot, I walk out into the river. As the water raucously sloshes past my waders, it disturbs the wide canyon I am alone in. I don't even know what fly I have on or whether the leader is good, I just try to start casting. I let the line tug from my fingers as I throw a little longer piece of line with each awkward cast. Tailing loops and dragging line is all I can muster. My rhythm is off. I can barely keep the line above the water. Why do I even do this? I keep casting but notice that I can hardly stand against the eight of the current. The sloshing of my line is drowned out only by the constant noise of the river around my legs. Nothing is rising; nothing is hatching.

Pausing, I let the line straighten downstream. "Focus." I tell myself. With a flick, I send the line straight upstream in a way that almost looks respectable. I turn a little in the river and it quiets down. The line drags a little and I pick it up and cast again. Short casts at first, then a little longer. As I cast, I can start to feel the rod load in my hand and the loops stop tailing. I start to add a little double haul to the cast. The sound of the river becomes melodic and I find a kind of rhythm. 10-2, 10-2. A little more line. 10-2. More line. 10-2. A little bit sideways and a little bit of wrist action. 10-2. It is not the traditional cast, but it is my cast. 10-2. A quick tug with one hand and a gentle forward motion of the rod with the other and it begins to feel effortless as I shoot the line forward again upstream. The line is floating freely and only the slightest mend is needed to keep it drifting nicely by. I notice that the weight of the river is keeping me balanced on the rocks around my feet. Yes, I remember now. Rhythm. Balance. 10-2, 10-2. A few more times. The loops are tight and easy to throw. It feels like I'm just watching myself from the bank and it looks so easy. Over and over, I cast, just feeling the rhythm. 10-2. Then I hear a foreign sound like a door opening and my wife's voice saying, "OK honey, your five minutes are up."

I open my eyes. I am still in my favorite ugly green chair. My tying bench is to my right and fishing paraphernalia hangs on the walls. My beautiful wife has something special planned for tonight and she is almost ready to go.

"What were you doing?" she asks.

"Casting." I say.

Smiling, she understands. The pressures of life aren't gone, they are just balanced now. I guess you could call it meditation or something trendy like that. For me, life just feels lighter when you can stop and cast a fly line for a few minutes. ~ DS


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