By mid-morning his fingers were stiff and changing a fly was becoming a chore. They were stiff because they were cold. There was no snow or ice anywhere in view, but neither were there any shrubs flowering along the banks. Green was beginning to replace the dead brown vegetation, but the frost line hadn’t completely disappeared. When it did, the river would get high and dark from the runoff and seepage.
There was a small thermos in his jacket pocket under his vest and he could almost smell the coffee. He knew it would still be hot and the thought of the rich black coffee was taking over.
Climbing out of the river between two overhanging cedars, he took care not to catch his rod on branches as his stiff legs got their footing on the bank. With a short sigh, he arched his back then straightened. He followed the bank farther upstream to a small clearing with a downed tree and picked a spot where he could keep an eye on the creek that fed the river below the riffles.
There is nothing like a cup of hot, black, rich coffee to warm the body on a cool day as you sit looking over the river, he thought to himself. He unscrewed the cup and cork, poured a cup and after the first sip his attention turned to sounds that seemed to get louder as he kept silent and deliberately listened. He hadn’t been making noise, other than the crunching of what was beneath his feet as he walked to the trunk and picked a spot, but he wasn’t hearing what was around him either.
Birds began to make themselves known and seen as well as two mallards flying at treetop level heading downstream. By the time he poured the second cup he saw the ripple of a muskrat on the opposite side that disappeared into a swampy bank. It might have been an otter, he wasn’t sure, he just caught a glimpse.
There was a time when he would have lit a cigar, but that was a while back and unless he smelled one, he really didn’t miss not smoking.
The coffee was gone; just a swig or two remained in the thermos and he would save it for when he got back to the Jeep and climbed out of his waders. It would be a toast to the river and the morning’s fishing; and a way of saying …life was good; he’d be back!