It happens this way

I run down to the river and trot along its banks, this time of the year it is particularly gorgeous, the yellow and red leaves pad the dirt path and there is a fresh view of the mountains, stunning and new because the leaves are falling gently, unclothing the trees around me.

Summer’s bright extraversion, green fullness and earnest promises are swept away on the chill air. And the fragments of ideas, thoughts and memories swirl on the breeze and threaten to disperse, to disappear without note.

Like the artistic process, the fallow times must have their day.

I run down past the brown fields where rotting sunflower stalks are bent like scarecrows, their faces slumped and picked at by the crows. And I make my way along the cold water to the inlet where the brown trout hide.

They are big – a foot at least – eight or ten in a grouping, and they swim in place against the current with muscular bodies churning and fins delicately fanning the green darkness around them. If they see my shadow they will hide and so I stand completely still behind the little bridge and watch.

I imagine myself in the little school of fish, swimming energetically but going nowhere, treading alongside the others, waiting, for what I don’t know.

One day the sunlight hits their bodies in such a perfect way to illuminate a flash of speckled color on an underbelly, and I imagined a pink rainbow underneath the dull brown. So many exquisite things go overlooked, stay hidden.

And it strikes me that so often images from the day play across my mind, they squirm in my brain for days, turning over and over, waiting for words to go alongside them, some hook, some way to bring it all to light.

I believe the trout have their story but it is so easy to lose it, the idea of them, their essence, they become insignificant, a moment’s glance of color and then erased. And for the writer the connection is lost and I am left empty and it is that incompleteness, that unanswered question that brings me down here to the river over and over.

Because I know the story is here, the one I mean to tell: it is the brown trout, it is me, it is something between us, and sometimes I can see it shimmering, so perfectly crystalline, but just as often it spooks and in an instant, into the shallows it’s gone.


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