Beanery Online Literary Magazine

April 22, 2008

CHEST WADERS (and “Fishmas Eve”)

—written by Bernadette Myers

Locals call it “Fishmas Eve.” You know. That “holiday” celebrated by fishermen in the Ligonier Valley. I adapted a popular Christmas tale, “Twas the Night Before…Fishmas,” when nothing is stirring, not even a snake…when fishermen all travel with no fear…and camp among creatures, stirring, even the bear…The scene through the night is filled with bonfires…Their smoke wafting and scenting the air…In front of tents lining muddy stream banks…Rises a tasty odor of grilled meat hanks…Sleep early, sleep late, all arouse early next morn…for at 8 a. m., the rainbow and brook trout hunt is on… OK, so I’m no poet, but driving along Route 30 along Loyalhanna Creek cars are parked on the roadside for the annual night-before-fishing season ritual that occurred April 12 this year. Below is a post on fishing that first appeared in INTO THE FOOTHILLS 2000, a publication of the former Foothills Writers Group. —Carolyn

Martin stood in the middle of Spring Creek, casting and retrieving the tiny home-tied fly made of pheasant feathers and silk. He sought trout that morning, just at sunrise, and unable to meet any of his usual cronies on the bank, he fished alone.

He was at peace with his solitude; he had wanted to talk to God about some things, some changes he was looking forward to in his life. As he cast the line across the sparkling water and breathed the dewy morning air, his thoughts drifted, and he planned and prayed and promised things to himself.

He moved downstream, his chest waders protecting his red flannel shirt and overalls from the water and his aging bones from the chilly temperatures. Suddenly, a fish took his bait! Martin was filled with fight and excitement. He was just sorry no one was there to see.

The fish was a strong one, one worth reeling in, so he persisted. The struggle led him to ever deepening waters. He felt the tiny trickle of water over the side of his chest waders, but ignored it, favoring the battle with his attention. As in his time of waiting, his time of testing was filled with planning and praying and promising to himself. With his mind elsewhere, he did not realize the water kept trickling steadily into the waders.

The fish was tiring, but he was not. He pursued to even deeper waters, and sensed the battle nearing an end. As he finally pulled the trout close enough to capture it in his net, his elation was clouded by his inability to lift his foot.

Too much water had spilled into the waders, rendering him helpless in the deepest part of Spring Creek. He was sorry there was no one there to see.

He thought of spring in the mountains and how sometimes the water rose and sometimes it receded. So while he waited, he tried to break a hole in the toe of his chest waders on a rock in the bed of Spring Creek. He planned and prayed and promised things to himself.

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To read the first installment of a teenage Holocaust victim’s story, click on THE HOLOCAUST STORY OF A TEENAGE VICTIM (Part 1)

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