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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I often fish in early spring
When the streams are high
For trout will get in tiny brooks
That later on are dry
And here I take a fish or two
While others just ignore
The possibilities these brooks
Have for a trout or more.

But when I’m fishing in the spring
Black gnats become a scourge
They bite my ears, my face, my neck
And make the fishing hard
Mosquito dope would do no good
And so I bought a net
That went right over my brimmed hat
And tied up underneath.

But then they started on my hands
And made it difficult
To change a tippet or a fly
So often did they bite.
And when I tried to drift a fly
'Neath overhanging brush
Those black gnats made it miserable
Until I put on gloves

But black gnats only stay around
Until the May fly hatch
Then gradually do disappear
Until they all are gone.
Then all who like to fish the streams
And I was one of them
Can fish away without the curse
Of black gnats and their bites.

I had been fishing Breakheart Brook
Just wading down the stream
Not taking anything to keep
Just letting my fly drift
Until I reached the Falls River
Combined they formed a pool
I stood in the water to my knees
And wondered what they’d take.

I had a little metal box
That was just full of flies
I could have left most of them home
And carried only three
For I had tried most of these flies
With no result at all
The three I used were “mosquito,”
“Silver doctor” and “black gnat.”

It was by then late afternoon
And shadows had begun
But then I saw the May fly hatch
And knew just what to use
I tied a silver doctor on
Then let the fly just drift
And took a trout that fought so hard
Before it came to net.

The silver doctor worked quite well
Was hit most every cast
I was right on the edge of them
These trout were rising fast
They hit that silver doctor hard
Each fought me all the way
I kept the bigger trout I caught
And just released the rest.

Now when I’d caught my final fish
The limit then was six
I stowed away my fishing gear                   
And started up the hill
I reached the crest, and then sat down
Upon an oaken stump
And as I watched the mackerel sky
The sun went slowly down.

This sunset was the perfect way
To end my fishing day,
With golds and reds, and orange too
Amid the indigo.
I’d climbed the hill to see this sight
And felt the peace inside
That comes to me at eventide
Whenever I’m alone.

Now as the light began to fade
The shadows grew quite long
And as I watched the changing sky
I heard a wood thrush call
I listened for the Veery Thrush
And soon I heard him too,
Always trebling down the scale
This thrush is wont to do.

‘Twas almost dark and I still sat
And listened to the night
I waited for the great horned owl
To issue forth its hoot
But only heard the swishing of
A night hawk swooping low.
And as I sat, I thought about
How Dad would love this so.

But finally, ‘twas almost dark,
When I arose to go
In silence I went down the hill
Until I reached the road
I’d hoped to see a deer or fox
Or anything at all
This night had been a peaceful one
I left reluctantly.

I had my trout, enough for all
My evening was complete
My time spent out upon the stream,
The sunset and the dark
Each gave to me a peacefulness
That I remember still
For I had listened to the night
And found my God anew.

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