The sun descends, subtly blending its essence into a tranquil patternof red, orange and deep purple. The sounds of day fade and a surreal peace spreads across the waterlike a gentle evening breeze. Looming birch, cedar and pine trees cast shadows. The last flickeringrays of sun shine as beacons through the sylvan canopy. Myriad insects swarm above the watersurface, and life fills the night.
In the seclusion of northern New Hampshire, I sit aloneamid a world of unparalleled beauty. With no company but a small green kayak and a fishing rod, mymind wanders. Tonight I decide to head upriver to a shallow area hosting fast-flowing rapids andsmallmouth bass. With several small silver lures and my fiberglass rod, I paddle through the sleekblack obscurity of the Ossipee River.
Around me, the splendor of nature abounds. Fall hasbrought vibrant coloring to the trees that proudly display brilliant shades of yellow, red andorange across the water surface. Birds chatter sporadically, their cries drained in the oblivioussilence of dusk. The silence of this place slows the world, stopping time if only for a moment, toreveal again what truly matters.
I battle the current and paddle upstream, at long lastarriving at the rapids. Steering the kayak into a grove of thin, sharp reeds, I step out into thecool water. Wearing Tevas, my feet easily maneuver through the snags on the bottom. For the mostpart, the bottom is rocks covered in a slippery brown moss.
Ten yards away, I see whatI’ve been looking for. Between two elm trees, a small strip of gravel overlooks a waterfallthat tumbles into a deep pool. Stepping cautiously over a decaying stump, I make my way to thebeach. I glance at my watch: six o-clock. Perfect timing.
With an adroit flick of the wrist,I send a small blue and silver Kastmaster into the flowing rapids. Retrieving quickly, I am metalmost immediately with a confident, angry strike. Seconds later, a thrashing smallmouth bass ripsthrough the surface, shaking vigorously. But the hook is set, and after a valiant struggle the fishdangles in the air, a well-fed giant 12 inches long.
I am astounded to see such a largefish in this shallow area. The fish gasps, imploring me to free him. Delicately prying the hookfrom his mouth, I hold him up before releasing him into the deeper waters. The thrill of the catchsurges through me and I eagerly cast again. The river treats me well and my lure fools many fish.Although varied in size, none compares to the first.
As night enshrouds the river, natureforces me home. I reenter my craft with a peaceful feeling of fulfillment. As the lastshades of day fade to darkness, the river rings with the echoes of crickets and other insects.Mosquitoes abound in thick, unwanted gangs. Pulling my hood up, I paddle faster back to the quietfamiliarity of my grandfather’s home.
Thoughts of food and warmth fill my mind, and Ileave the rapids with peace and gratitude. Stars flicker in the infinity, acknowledging my humblepresence.
Alone on the river at night, I am lost in the oblivion of wilderness. Fishingoffers me escape, if only momentary, from the insignificance of routine to the unmatched splendorand continuance of nature.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.