Beneath the Paving Stones, the Beach
The rain had started as a slight drizzle, but for the last hour it had turned heavier, colder. I slipped slightly on the muddy slope above the creek, dropping the large, awkward bag of trash I was carrying to grab a convenient root and steady myself. With an Interstate fifty yards to my right and fast food and gas stations immediately to the left, there was a lot of garbage in the narrow channel – soda cups and plastic bottles, crumpled wrappers and bags, a lone shoe, a watch cap, a sweater, broken snow poles, even a campaign sign two decades old. Whatever was dropped on the pavement would find its way, via wind, water, and time, into the willows that lined the stream, between the rocks over which the current flowed.
With the chill air and the exertion, my glasses had fogged. I ran a glove across each lens, improving my view slightly. Looking just on the creek itself, and not its surroundings, this was actually a pretty place, a Cinderella in a hard-luck setting. Thick willows along the banks gave a sense of intimate enclosure, and the culvert under the access road, at the head of the stretch I was cleaning, had created a deep, well-oxygenated plunge pool. Downstream, at almost regular intervals, large, water-carved rocks punctuated the stream, breaking it into well-defined pockets. A fishy-looking place, and although I had yet to spot trout, I knew they were in a meadow section a few hundred yards upstream, so surely they were here, as well. Probably not big fish, and likely not many, but stream-bred. Wild.
And surely, this would be a tough place to throw a fly, but, tactically, not at all different from other high-elevation creeks. Except it was ignored terrain, invisible, despite being in plain sight. Certainly long unappreciated.
The rain began falling harder. I climbed the short slope to my vehicle, stashed the bag and other debris in the back. The dumpster was a couple of miles away, the fishing season further. I had to smile, though. Come spring, I'll return, this time with a rod in hand, rather than a bag, and looking forward to getting better acquainted.
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