Yesterday, after the torrential, tropic-like rains had come and quickly passed, and the sun began setting, a warm humid quietness settled over everything. Thick patches of fog were developing, filling the dips in the roads, and blurring small valleys in between green hills, as I drove along. We were heading out to the store; the dog standing in his seat with his paws on the dashboard, and both our faces nearly touching the windshield as we eagerly looked out at the beauty of the summer afternoon. Thick grey clouds with wispy edges hung over and behind the Holyoke range, obscuring the top third of the hills and forming a dark backdrop to the ridge. From there, the sky turned different shades of an almost liquid blue-grey, outlined and punctuated by whiter or darker clouds the farther you looked up, or left, or right. And not a patch of clear blue was to be seen anywhere. Everything was wet and green, mist-laden and still. And things didn't look to be drying too soon. This is the heart of summer, I thought.
After the store, I stopped at a little pond on the way back, which sits on both sides of Rte. 116 in Granby. I parked on the dirt shoulder, grabbed my fishing rod, a couple lures, and put the leash on the dog. With surprising strength and limitless energy, the little dog pulled me along the trail that follows the edge of the pond, eagerly sniffing the thick air and probing nearby branches and dark mossy stumps as he went. The trees were all dark with wet bark, and the sounds of water drops, falling off the thick green leaves, were the only sounds. Cool drops of water dripped down the back of my neck as I brushed under low lying branches. I'd try to move them away with my rod as the dog pulled me through, but I'd just shake loose a little personal rainstorm over me each time. It didn't matter. My shirt, head, legs and shoes were all a little wet. Everything around me was wet. The world was soaked.
We found a small clearing, and I set up my fishing gear. The pond was thick with algae and Lily pads, and a mist was just beginning to drift over it too, already clouding the opposite edge. I made a cast and listened to the quiet 'plook' as the lure went under. I reeled in... picked another spot, then made another cast. Glancing behind me over at the dog, I saw that he was intently peering into the darkening forest behind us. He perked his head this way and that, his nostrils and ears positioning and pointing, directing at smells and sounds beyond my senses. Then I felt a tug. My attention like a lightening bolt went to where my line meets the water. I felt a tug again, the line went taught, and moved a little to the side by itself. I yanked up on the pole, and immediately the tugs became wild, numerous, varied pulls. The pole bent forward and swayed back and forth, as I anxiously spun the reel and tried to keep tension on the line. The rest of the world instantly dropped away, as I zoomed in entirely on the bouncing, zig-zagging line. I was eager and exited; just what creature is it, that I might pull up out of the deep this time. A second later there was thrashing on the surface of the water, as the fish tried all maneuvers to break free. But I had him. Another few seconds, and I was staring into the black, bewildered gaze of a Large Mouth Bass. Trying not to stress him any further, I held him firmly by the lower jaw, and carefully removed the hook. He'd alternately be very still, storing his waning energy, then startle me by suddenly thrashing in my hand again, still trying to get free. Free of the hook, I took a couple seconds to looked proudly at my catch. He wasn't particularly large, but he was a sight for sore eyes. My luckless streak was broken. I put him back in the water, and he immediately darted off.
Throughout the afternoon, as I gazed on the beauties of the post-storm landscape, at every picturesque valley scene I came across, then the cool wet forest trail, then the glistening Bass, hanging from my hand; I had been mentally kicking myself. All of it was blog fodder. For close to 10 months now, I have consistently kept my camera close and at the ready, always looking for stuff to share on 'in the valley'. This afternoon's travels would have been perfect. But as luck would have it, I had left the camera's memory card at home, and now I couldn't record any of it.
At times it almost felt like all the great things I encountered this afternoon were wasted. But then I realized it never is. This afternoon, all that I saw, happened to be for me.