Re­ju­ve­na­tion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky.

Left the car on New­found­land’s Route 70 before the turn to­ward Grate’s Cove, before the long stretch of Breeches Pond, and I cut un­der the power lines that an­gle for Bay de Verde. On the power pole near­est to my route, a tin pole iden­ti­fier shiv­ered in the wind, flick­er­ing with Morse mes­sages of sun and cloud.

It’s bar­ren grounds up there, low and flat, mosses and lichen and a tall dry heather-like grey staghorn plant that crunches brit­tle un­der­foot right now. The rock pokes through the ground­cover, the stone pink and brit­tle and split by the freeze and thaw into flat sliv­ers, so that there are pud­dles of pink among the plants. Fat veins of white quartz shoot south­west to north­east, sturdy enough that the pink rock has eroded away from them, leav­ing the quartz stand­ing proud, cloudy-white and in some places as fat as a man’s wrist.

Not a warm day, but the sun was warm on my back, head­ing down into the kind of shal­low crease of wet val­ley that de­fines the word “swale.”

The dry bar­rens gave way to wet as the hill bel­lied into the val­ley’s bowl, the lichen giv­ing way to pil­lowed moss and then to bog grass, and I could see the deep, dessert-plate-sized tracks of moose punched down into the soak­ing peat, the wind­clipped and shaped spruce like a never-end­ing ex­per­i­ment in the pre­vail­ing weather’s top­i­ary.

I’d been in the area before, scout­ing for the last re­main- ing signs of a long-aban­doned rail spur line, built in 1915 but aban­doned a mere 15 years later, and look­ing across the bar­rens, I’d seen a small col­lec­tion of bog ponds, the kind that are ac­tu­ally some­times deep and pro­duc­tive pools, beads strung along a thread of mov­ing stream, and the kind that fish best before the pond lilies come up.

I’d crossed the stream where it ran along the hip of the hill, and it was lit­tle more than a freshet, brook’s lit­tle brother, small and mu­si­cal where it fell over small falls.

I had my fly rod, but it was more an ex­cuse than a rea­son.

The trout weren’t in­ter­ested any­way. I tried a small Wulff Royal Coach­man and a smaller Grey Adams, the two real horse­men of the trout apocalypse, but only to be able to say I’d given it my best shot, with­out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing small mis­ery of harm­ing a small and per­fect thing. The mis­ery that of­ten grows as you age, and are every day a less per­fect thing your­self.

Cap keeping bright sun from my eyes, the sky rich blue and the ocean, when you could see it, flash­ing sil­ver.

I walked the wa­ter­course, still caught in the spring smell of warm­ing peat, the scents of the bog plants still not back from their win­ter hia­tus, pre­tend­ing to be do­ing some­thing that I was not, the pur­pose sud­denly more about the ex­pe­ri­ence than the re­sult.

I cut away from the brook in a wide curve, eyes seek­ing out the rock spine of the hill back out of the val­ley so that I could walk back with­out dip­ping back into bog, with­out the un­even tread that makes you walk with your eyes per­ma­nently down for safety. Glad to be alive. When you find a place that re­deems you, a place that recharges you, that makes you re­mem­ber (be­cause you for­get, we so eas­ily for­get), that “this is why,” then you should go there of­ten, ei­ther in real life or in mem­ory.

It doesn’t take much, and it feels oddly like swim­ming a long dis­tance un­der­wa­ter and then com­ing back up for that first, big, nec­es­sary lung­ful of air.

I had my fly rod, but it was more an ex­cuse than a rea­son. The trout weren’t in­ter­ested any­way.

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