I could feel it.
Not with my fingers, necessarily. Those were numb, as frozen as the grass and twigs at my feet.
Right by my insulated boot, in fact, was a stick that looked like it was wearing a translucent jellyfish as a helmet. All of maybe three inches long, and angled over the water at about a 45 degree angle, the tiny wooden spear got swamped by chilly wind-driven wave after chilly wind-driven wave as I watched.
Clearly that had been going on for a while. Its glassy dome, about the size of a shooter marble or a white puffy dandelion head, was the result.
Stinks to be you, I thought.
Then again, it almost stunk to be me, too.
I was pretty well frozen myself. My feet were OK, but my ears were another story. It was the same with my nose.
And my hands?
Here’s a little trick. If you want to know if the treble hooks on your lures are sharp, try fishing with gloves. If they seem to leap out and bury themselves in your gloves – right up to if not past the barb — every time you’re trying to melt the ice in your rod guides, they’re good to go.
The downside is your spend more time unhooking yourself than fish.
I’d grown tired of that after a while and so had shucked the gloves to fish bare-handed. Now my fingers were digits of ice.
But I could feel it.
It wasn’t the calendar, though it had announced a change. It wasn’t the deceptive sun, which was shining brightly even if it wasn’t offering nearly the warmth it suggested. It wasn’t even the northern pike, those early spawners, which were biting regularly enough to keep me telling myself I’d stay five more minutes.
It was .. what then?
I’m not sure. Something. Nothing. Everything.
But I could feel it.
Even as I watched flying ducks and geese, and made a mental note to come back and seek them come fall, I could feel spring had arrived.
It’s not yet here in all its glory. That will come in the next few weeks.
But it’s here. And I’m ready.
Winter is a season with its own charms. There’s the look of freshly-fallen snow on a stand of evergreens. There’s the sound – or maybe lack of it — of walking, shotgun in hand, through a woodlot one last time before season’s end. There’s the sting on your face as you cross a windy field.
But it’s time for something different. The familiar waters I promised myself last year to haunt even more? The new waters to explore? The trails to hike and paddle, the turkeys to hunt, the camps to sleep in?
It’s time to start chasing those dreams.
I can feel it.