Looking Back

This blog features poems by a native New Englander and octogenarian, as he looks back on the stomping grounds of his youth -- Chaffee's Woods, Kent Heights, Beach Pond, Escoheag, Wood River -- and his army days in Europe towards the end of WWII.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wood River

Up at the Wickaboxet Farms
There stands the Wickaboxet Lodge
And ‘cross the road from this old inn
Lies lily padded Hazard Pond
And from this pond a stream does flow
Known as Falls River on our maps.
It crosses Liberty Hill Road
And flows just right, not fast, not slow.

But when it reaches Step Stone Falls
It there becomes a noisy stream
It roars and tears along, then makes
A frenzied, frothy downhill plunge
Thru rocks and logs, then starts to slow
With darkened eddies here and there
That hide in back of rocks or logs
And make great hideaways for trout.

But soon it meets with Breakheart Brook
And these two waters do combine
To form a larger, slower stream
We call Wood River, and it flows
From Exeter, where it begins
Thru miles of wooded land it runs
Twisting, turning as rivers will
Until it meets the Pawcatuck.

Now there’s another pond I know
Off to the east of Falls River
This pond is known as Breakheart Pond
And from it flows the Breakheart Brook.
‘Twas here I learned to fish for trout
Taught to me by an older friend
Who often fished the stream alone
But wanted company that day.

I must have been about fifteen
When first I saw this wondrous stream
And learned my casting rod was not
The best for catching wary trout.
Get a fly rod, he said to me
And then you can stand out of sight.
It lets you float your bait downstream
To catch those trout behind the rocks.

And so I took him at his word,
I bought a fly rod as he said
Then got a fly reel with fly line
Along with net and wooden creel.
And then I learned the way to fish
And ever since that time of old
I’ve fished the Breakheart all the way
Until it met that other stream
And as Wood River now is known.

These are the trout streams that I loved
All in the town of Exeter
And these, Beach Pond and Escoheag,
Are where my summer days were spent
And later on as I grew up
I’d be found on Breakheart Brook
Fishing, often by myself,
For fishing is a way of peace.

Or maybe on Falls River where
I’d find a quiet place to fish
Then let a fly with current drift
A silver doctor or a black gnat
Until I saw the swirling rise
That bigger trout would often make
When taking flies they thought were real
They mostly ended in my net.

But then some days I’d move around
And try Wood River for a change
For here there was a tangle thick
Of trees blown down in thirty-eight
A hurricane that left a mess
But to the trout was heaven sent
For now they’d hide most anywhere
And let the fisherman beware.

For often in late afternoon
And when the sun was getting low
I’d go across the Ten Rod Road
And slip into Wood River, where
The tangle left by hurricane
Had then become a paradise
For trout that hid beneath the logs
Of trees blown over in the past.

It’s not the fishing that I liked
For logs and brush so tangled up
Leave little room to drop a fly
And then it must be done with care
So trout won’t see from whence it came
And fish thus hooked will always try
To tangle line around a log
Before the net has brought them in.

This type of fishing’s difficult
And climbing over logs a chore
For though the trout are always there
The logs and brush are oft’ too much
And only those who love to fish
Will take the time and effort make
To reach infrequent open spots
Where it’s a joy just to be there.

So time did pass, I took a wife
And though I did not fish as much
I usually did make the first day
But that was just a hassle too
For good fishing would never start
Until Mayflies began their hatch
But then ‘twas difficult for me
To fish, for I had growing kids.

I stayed at home until the kids
Were grown enough so we could take
Them out to picnic at a spot
On Falls River where they could watch
As dad once more tried fly casting
So in I went, then waded down
And while they watched, I’d take a trout
Much to their joy and my delight.

And when my boys were old enough
I’d take them out to camp with me
We’d eat a meal near Step Stone Falls
Then drift down to the stream to see
If anyone was fishing there
Then back again to spend the night
In Beach Pond Park, where whip-poor-wills
And crickets put us all to sleep.

I love the memories of these streams
Of fishing them in spring and fall
Of using worms when just a boy
But when I grew to manhood then
I’d try the many flies I had
Until I found the one trout liked
Then I’d fish ‘til the sun went down
And then just watched as darkness neared.

Now in my elder years I wish
My boys had found that same desire
To take up fishing as a way
To find that inner peace we seek
By watching sunsets in the west
And listening to the evening birds
And all the sounds of coming night
Thus coming closer to their god.

Pool at Wood River

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