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by Mike Gaddis | Jul 23, 2020 | FISHING, FRESHWATER, Slider
Beginning Again Come July

“In every journey the road will bend. Who can know how the story will wend? To every beginning, there must come an end.”
Cliché? Maybe, but profoundly, as inescapable truths that bracket the birth-to-death limits of our being.

In the between time, there is life. Animate or inanimate. Life does not demand a heartbeat. A thing, too, can have life…a place, a time, a season, a thought, a wish, a love, a hate. Caught up in its own path, fraught with its own worry, proceeding in its own time of angst or glory, brought to doom upon completion of its story. Together, we are travelers in the runaway coach of time, under the reckless reins of Fate, down rutted roads of destiny, through gladness and sad.
Eventually billed to us all, the consummate price. The only variable, the number of acts in each play.

The strife of survival while we are here begs more. Less we be at loss for living.

Entangled so deeply in darkness sometimes, the alternative arrives joyfully, and almost as an epiphany: For every ending, there is also a beginning.

I don’t know altogether why, but July dying into August brings me here every year, to a similarly inevitable juncture of introspection. And more and more, at this crossroads by which I must stop and pay toll, I discover things of myself…or see suddenly so clearly, things…that before, life in its rush avoided me to know. Finding that the world and its truths may not have changed, but I have within them.

Is it ever the same with you?

Autumn. All my life, I have loved it more than any other season. My year has turned, not when the calendar is done, but as August has bled sweetgum red to September. I am then reborn. I am not alone in this, of course. Within our untamed brotherhood, there are myriad others.

Strange now…though…that for the majority of my being, loving it no less, I have considered the fall of the year an ending.

The last reminiscence of spring, the gasps and death throes of summer, its decline and decay to winter. The death of green and plenty, of full loden leaves and caressing southern breezes, the delicately pretty faces of June wildflowers, of verdant bottomland meadows filled with dragonflies, of balmy, liquid nights of campfires, stick-roasts and songs by the river, of the panting blue-white morning breath of sun-kissed streams, of hatches and hopes, of dimples and dries…in sum, of summer love.

Beginnings and endings.

“Life’s bookends,” my grandmother used to say.

Beginnings, replete with the joyful trinity of hope, harmony and happiness, endings hurtful with melancholy and sorrow.
Seemingly more weighted with difficult endings as the years turn on, life argues cynically that we think sadly. July and August in their ghostly shrouds have it differently.

That what we really celebrate in autumn is a beginning. A matter of perspective, yes, but also very much a matter of living. Aging, we all come to find, would have it that way. More and more—if we would covet happiness—we love, look for and cherish our world in beginnings.

I guess I considered this in younger years, but only casually it seems, because I had not nearly the consciousness of it then. I realize, now as not before, that it has always been the beginnings that have made the difference.
That should you be happy, dwell in beginnings.

We endure the sadness of endings, while we ourselves are yet here, to beseech, beg and borrow the unparalleled joy of the beginnings, finding that they occur with buoyant sufficiency to shelter us from the unavoidable and accruing heartbreak of their endings. Otherwise, I think we would quickly develop, as human destiny, an intolerance to live.
And, so, in autumn, we bury the sorrow when green leaves die—to look forward instead to their return in spring—rejoicing the more now, when first in fall, the sumac hemorrhages blood red, when golden sunflowers abound in roadside ditches, when rolled, yellow hay bales dot frosted hillside pastures, and crimson maple leaves sift lazily down through slanting shafts of October sunshine, when the cooling earth near dusk exhales chill and clean in a grove of spruce, when browns guard the redds, and doves fly, and giant drum return to the pounding gray surf, when spent gunpowder curls from the chambers of a favorite old gun, when our breath churls to mist on the air, when the rut runs randy and reckless, when we lay in bed and hear hounds in the hollows, when the great, buttery globe of a harvest moon first chins the horizon, and when at dusk the thought of a warm blaze, the two-fingers of fire in a glass, and a good book leavens the chill, and bids us again home…

As in winter, we anticipate the soulful silence before a first snowfall, the special lay of mellow mid-December sunlight on fields fallow and gray, the yesteryear scent of red cedar that gifts again childhood, hams hung from the rafters of crossroads country stores, striped stick candy, fly strips in curly bangles from the ceiling, and old-timey bushel baskets laden Winesap and orange, the first pecan or tangerine, a neck scarf of woven red wool, dogs pledged royally to birds on Christmas Eve, the once again roar of a troubled northwest wind through stalwart old oaks on a lonesome ridge, the tease of the wind through a winter beard, barren tree-tops like black lace at the neck of the New Year’s sky, a bloody African sunset over the Indian Ocean when the western hemisphere is blue-cold and frozen with snow, alder tags and mistletoe, blue berries on green cedar trees, the haunting, maniacal laughter of big owls in deep woods near nightfall, bird dogs by our side, stinging ears and a runny nose, a happy tired, when the yellow lights of home distantly appear across darkening fields, bringing wonderful reminiscence of other beginnings at evening when Mama would welcome us at the door, supper was waiting, and the house smelled sugary-sweet with fresh cornbread and steeping sweet potatoes…

As, when again in spring, we look so forward to naked gray trees blushing bashfully pink with buds, to a sheltered fence-corner and the soothing caress of the sun on a still-cold day, to the first daffodil, unveiling its pretty yellow face where snow yet lays, to the smell of crushed green onions, to brookside trilliums that rise bridal white from leaf mold among feathery green ferns, to doves that croon love songs, become one, and build stick-nests in pines, and bluebirds that babble love notes from the pink-white blossoms of apple trees, to newly-green meadows and does hopeful now with fawn, to calves dropping and red colts gamboling about gray mares, to sleepy cardinals that plead liquid notes against the first light of dawn, to the see-sawing serenade of whippoorwills again come twilight, to the stormless morning there is no lightning, yet thunder booms from a nearby hill, to the first hatch of the year that flits above crystal mountain streams, to little black hens mothering scurrying, yellow biddies, the first golden butterfly to grace purple garden flowers, to air laden with jasmine, honeysuckle, and hyacinth on a warm April evening, to the sweet scent of bream that wafts pregnant from the pond, to the delicate load and relief again of a fiveweight, to the rainbow splatter like a dog shakes as the line unloads, and to the serendipity of the tip when hope takes…

And, then…well…there’s summer, and the inquest of July and August once more. Before starting happily over again.
Amid the beauty of all this, we shoot and we fish, and take a life that the more now we would like to give back. Loving more beginnings than ends. Most of all, we are thankful…for the love of a good woman, for every sunrise, for the countless, incomparable blessings of a lifetime outdoors, for old friends to share it with, for dogs that understand what people don’t and the renaissance that occurs anew every living day.
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