Gone fishin'

Russell
Russell Wangersky
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There's a great leap between spring and summer here, and for the life of me, I can never actually pinpoint the week where it takes place.

One day, leaves are struggling their way out of the bud, and the next, it's as if every single plant has decided to burst into leaf, into flower, into green.

There's a great leap between spring and summer here, and for the life of me, I can never actually pinpoint the week where it takes place.

One day, leaves are struggling their way out of the bud, and the next, it's as if every single plant has decided to burst into leaf, into flower, into green.

They're all distracting: a drift of simple wild strawberry flowers running away down a bank, or tiny, three-point purple flowers with yellow tongues shooting out of a collection of sharp-point green fronds on the edge of a bog, the first hard buds of rose bushes. There's just so much of it, all at once, that it's almost hard to take in. The other thing is, it's remarkably short. Not Arctic-short. Not even Labrador-short.

But short enough. A couple of months from now, and the river grasses will all be gone to seed. Leaves will have that late-season, waxy darkness that just seems to shout "fall's coming," and the light itself will change, away from the full heat it has now and off into the slanted half-whiteness that says the sun's actually paying attention to something else.

So use your time wisely.

Today, if I'm lucky, or maybe tomorrow if it's nicer, I'll try and find my way onto the Red Head River, flies or not. There's a branch of the river that turns back towards North Harbour, the right-hand branch looking upriver, that has a curious piece of topography where the river water has cut away through soft stone, and seems to travel out of sight for a while.

It's like a cave river there, and, if you put your face right down into the gaps, you can hear the river cresting over small underground falls, sounding further away than it looks as if the river could run.

Throw a fly in, up against the current, and something will always rise. It's easy to imagine that it must be a huge and hungry fish, although the truth is the underground trout, should you ever catch one, are probably no bigger than any other on that river, where the mud trout basically never quite make a pound.

It's something you can do in very few places in this country: more than anything else, we are extraordinarily lucky to live here in a province that is, in many ways, packed with potential.

I'll do everything I can to protect that.

There's one thing I won't do today.

I won't waste one single moment thinking about the politics of this place, or about the need some people have to find an enemy behind every corner. Because there's also a great leap between feeling wronged and seeking some kind of redress, and letting that wrong become a constant infected boil, a carbuncle of bitter that colours your whole world and virtually poisons your blood.

Doesn't anyone else ever get sick of being told how much we were ripped off, or how someone else is always to blame for every single thing that's gone wrong? Of being told the easy and manipulative jargon that "Ottawa has its boot on our throat" or some other hackneyed, false and jingoist rant?

Cry me a river.

Because I'd rather be fishing on one, thanks very much.

We live in something very close to a natural wonder, and we can make of it what we will.

We can look under every rock for how we've been wronged, for proof of the latest imagined betrayal, or we can make our own future, every single day.

There are people in this province who roll their eyes at the endless complaining, and look instead at the things they can do, at the skills they've developed, and the things they build and write and make and the businesses they can run.

They take pride in the fact that they are the architects of their good fortune, rather than working over every day how they are victims of every possible slight.

I'm with them.

I'd rather build than blame.

When Saturday comes - and Monday, for that matter - what will you decide to do?

Build, or tear down?

There are more than enough cold winter nights ahead to spend blaming other people for things. And maybe that's a hobby better left to the bitter, anyway.

They already have that particular taste down pat.

Russell Wangersky is the editor of The Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at rwanger@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Arctic, Red Head River, North Harbour Ottawa

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