The Bones of Summer (Pt. II)
July 24, 2001
So pass the days. I hope I shall always remember summers here like this. The flats, though small, seem to stretch for an eternity, and I am always there with the sun at my back, searching. For what, I cannot say, but at the very least I have found memories. To really know such places requires time, and memory is built slowly, in layers. It is accreted, like the new sand of a high tide or the detritus of a storm. There is meaning there somewhere.
Stories, too, are found… or made. It was not a month ago now that I was stalking the mangrove fringe at dusk. The sun had set and I came there to see if the snook I knew lived there fed easier at night. Apparently they did, for a few minutes before full dark I heard a flounce under the mangroves. Their foliage is impenetrable, but I recalled a space between the main growth and a small outcropping that had held snook during the day. Getting a fly in there would not be easy, especially in the dark with the mangroves looking like a solid black wall against the charcoal sky. Still, my second cast somehow made it in and two short strips later I set up on what could only be a snook or a mangrove root… but mangrove roots don’t jump.
I proceeded, with building glee, to hand-line this snook out of the tangle of roots, through the small forest of young shoots, not giving an inch until the fish was onto the generally open water of the flat where it promptly snapped my ten-pound tippet. I stood cursing at the empty flat.
The stars spun overhead, dancing their celestial solea as a satellite glided across the night, its electronic eye mercifully occupied with greater matters.
Beneath heaven a small creature danced on the edge of a rock in the Caribbean. There, on a ragged corner of nowhere, I had stalked the crafty snook—a creature of the wild, lonely places—and touched it but briefly. I had seen its jumps, its outline distinct against the pewter water, but had lost him to my own shortcomings. Why? I gazed up at heaven with my question, but only received the usual answer. Heaven was as quiet as a conch.
The stars danced on.