“She’s from Iss-ta-an-bull,” says Mr. Athletic, admiring his girlfriend. He is speaking Southern.
“Ees-tan-bowl,” she corrects and shuffles her elfin feet adorned in Saucony runners.
But the rest of their talk blows away, down, down, off the top of Conley Ridge. There is a breeze, see, a soft one coming from the crown of Spring herself. But instead of lady slipper orchids and wild gingerroot, I close my eyes and dream of Oregon in June. Cool touch of wind, trivial respite from the rain; it is possible to wear a fleece jacket in the summertime in the ever-present shadow of the evergreens.
On the drive home I climb the pass to Chalk Mountain, its feldspar guts gleaming like road kill on the side of the highway while dump trucks crush along its exposed spine, chug, chug, dig, boom; mountain harvest. Ten more miles to gravel and yes…
April 1st, opening day of trout season and the banks of the mighty South Toe are littered with men and lure. 4:45 p.m., two boys in camo and Orvis asleep at the roadside, legs up on the back of the Chevy, butts pocketed in limp net lawn chairs, tired from starting out so early this morn’.
Best wake up ‘fore dusk, boys, I hear tell they’ll fish the river out before the Sheriff’s men call it a day, tallying up their stubs, one, two, three…eighteen, nineteen, twenty – say, we’uns got the same bastard twice there in one day, see that there, he camped out at the Low Bridge where she runs so high you might could pluck one out with yer bare hands, yeah.