I was startled awake by the alarm clock. I couldn't
figure out why the blasted thing was squawking in my
ear at 3:00 a.m., so I sat up and reached across the
bed to turn the infernal thing off. As I laid down to
go back to sleep my bride of thirty-nine years elbowed
me and said: " Get out of bed, you old fool." I
responded: "I am retired now, I thought we threw that
alarm clock away!" to which she replied: "Len is
expecting you at four." It then dawned upon me "I am
going trout fishing today!" I sprang from my bed.
Sprang is a relative word. As sprang as any 62
year-old, recently retired school teacher can sprang,
today was the day. I was going to re-introduce myself
to my childhood passion -- trout fishing. I quietly
left the bedroom and started a pot of coffee. As the
coffee brewed, all the memories of my childhood
fishing rushed over me. The day I was bitten by the
trout fishing bug. It seemed just like yesterday. I
have played that memory over and over again in my head
many times. It usually happens when the first cold
snap hits in late September.
Dad rolled me out of bed at the crack of dawn. Uncle
Sig is already in the car, waiting. The gear is packed
and all that's left is to get me dressed and into the
car. Dad hurries me...tells me that we need to be on
the water before it gets too sunny. Dad turns the old
Buick westward. We are on our way.
Dad and Uncle Sig are giddy with anticipation, and as
they reminisce about old outings they took together
when they were young Dad tells me about the first time
he went fishing with his father. I had heard that
story many times and smiled as he told it
again...although the fish he'd caught had grown since
the last time I'd heard it!
The road gets long and I nod off. All of a sudden Dad
and Uncle Sig are almost shouting: "here's the
bridge", Uncle Sig exclaims. He bolts from the Buick,
gets down on all fours and crawls up to the bridge's
edge. He peers over the bridge, then crawls back and
comes running to the car. Uncle Sig is really fired
up. He says: "Young man, there are a couple nice
browns under that bridge with your name written on
My Dad places me downstream from the bridge. Uncle Sig
is in the sneak position again. He crawls to the edge
of the bridge to aid me in placing my cast properly.
Dad directs my cast with the aid of Uncle Sig. It
seems just like yesterday. The beautiful brown trout
takes my offering on the first cast. My dad and uncle
are cheering me. The battle seems infinite. I land a
smallish brown. My dad and uncle make me feel like
that trout was the biggest and most beautiful trout
they had ever seen. A farmer in a truck drove by at
the same time and gave me a thumbs up as he drove
across the bridge.
Man, did I ever get sidetracked.
I've got to get moving and meet up with Len. The time
is just screaming by, just like all those years of
teaching had. I had never gotten a chance to go back
to that bridge. Teaching and family had washed away
any chance of getting back there.
I met up with Len and we got into his truck for the
trip to the bridge. I did not remember the exact area
of the bridge as I was six years old the last time
there and I had slept almost all the way there; I just
knew a general area of the bridge. As Len drove along
I tried to describe what the bridge looked like.
I told Len the story about my first outing with Dad
and Uncle Sig. I described the bridge to a "t." The
way my uncle had hung off the bridge on his belly to
direct my first cast. We searched and searched the
area. We could not find the bridge. We stopped and
looked at the map to see if there was a place we were
missing. I was so sad. I could not find that bridge...
it had disappeared. I could not talk with my dad or
uncle. They both had been taken by the stream of time
to where all good anglers go. We finally gave up on
the bridge and turned around and decided to hit some
Len slowed the truck...and said: "Peter - is that it
out in the field?" I said: " No, it can't be. It isn't
the way I remember it. It was on the main road and it
didn't look like that." Len told me that the county
had straighten the road about 35 years ago and made a
new bridge. That bridge out in the field had to be it.
Len could see my disappointment in my face. I got out
of the truck and strung up my rod. I asked Len if I
could fish the stretch alone. I wanted to try to
re-capture some of the magic of my ancient memories.
Every thing looked different. I thought to myself that
this couldn't be the bridge. I carefully approached
the bridge hole.....I placed my first cast directly in
the feed lane. A brown trout came up and took my
presentation. I knelt down to net the brown...the
memories rushed back....the bridge ruins jolted my
Don't let The Stream Of Time wash you away before you
have found YOUR bridge. ~ Len Harris