Acts 27:13a – When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted…
A scarlet sunset foretold a sailor’s delight at the dawning of the morrow. She rose from her bed early, as had been her practice since childhood, and checked the wind. Light and southerly, as the sunset has predicted. A tired smile traced one of the many lines on her face.
She made her way to start the coffee in the kitchen, a ritual so ingrained that she brewed twice as much as she needed. She looked around at her snug, small house. It had witnessed the raising of three boys to manhood and now settled into midlife gracefully. A worn lawn once strewn with footballs and bicycles now sported a new crop, blossoming into a vibrant garden. The soil yielded to the touch of a mother whose need to nurture continued even after the nest was empty.
As she sipped her coffee, her mind struggled to determine if she was awake or dreaming. So much of the last few days had been lived in a haze, and the fringes of her mind lost track of the border between fact and fiction.
Bred of Scottish stock, she had no patience for impractical thoughts. She shook the fog from her mind, and moved down the darkened hall to the small office where her trip planning was well underway.
She sat at the desk and allowed herself a glance at images in frames that froze time, then got to work.
Her schedule was a busy one, driven with all the urgency of a businessman’s. First there was a trip to the shore near home, which she would attempt today, as the salmon were in.
Then there was the Mothers Day hatch on the Animas River she must plan for, and the Green Drake hatch on Henry’s Fork. In the early summer there would be a trip to the Bahamanian bonefish flats, and in the fall to the special lake in Yellowstone where the cutthroats would be feeding on dries all day.
So many plans and phone calls and emails to attend to. She must remember to have the neighbors tend to the watering while she was away, and stop the paper and mail deliveries. The trips would be a lot shorter this year than most, and she was keeping her gear to a minimum.
She went over the rivers and tidal flats in her mind, remembering exact locations that she would visit with her husband in tow.
They had fished together for fifty years, starting in their courtship in Montana, and continuing through the lean years of raising babies and paying mortgages. The trips then were often only a couple hours long, when they could bribe a teen aged babysitter to sit with their energetic brood to coincide with the early summer evening hatches.
The boys grew into teens themselves and retirement soon followed, allowing a respite from the demands of industry. The fishing trips became frequent to more distant locations, but always they went together, as they would this day.
Today she drove, and he occupied the passenger seat. He often had her drive to the shore when they fished, as he obsessively rearranged the flies in his box and checked leaders. He, like his wife, had a liberal streak of Scottish practicality, and time commuting should not be time wasted.
Since the news arrived that the salmon were finally in, they selected a mid-week trip, as they are best for avoiding the weekend crowds. They never sought solitude from one another, preferring to fish in the same way they lived, as partners. But they preferred solitude from others; especially today.
The walk from the parking lot to their favorite point on the shore seemed to take a long time. Her steps, once light and brisk with the excitement of salmon were slowed by the years. She paused to rest a moment and checked the wind again…it would be at their backs, perfect for carrying casts far into the surf.
She reached the point, and looked around. It had changed since their first trip here, but it was still breathtaking. She reached into her bag and removed the lid from a small jar.
Pouring a handful of ashes into her palm and threw them as far into the ocean, carried by the wind. She watched as he was carried further into the tide, then slowly turned back to the car, where four more jars remained, waiting for a favorable wind….