Winter Drifting

It all starts innocently enough. Sundrenched summer afternoons wiled away beside childhood rivers. A stringer of bluegill here, maybe a bass from the frog water there. Sometimes you crawl through the rhododendrons looking for brookies. You’re with friends; everyone gripped by the same hopeful sense of adventure. Who knows what lurks below the surface? Anything can happen. Sometimes it does.

Before long you’re experimenting on your own though; looking for new water, dabbling in different species. You don’t always tell the truth about where you’ve been, or what you’ve been doing. You still enjoy company, but forced to choose, you opt for the water.

Loved ones aren’t concerned until you start missing school, and then work. It’s no big deal, you tell them. Relax. You can stop anytime you want to… you just don’t want to. Meanwhile your habit’s becoming expensive. You need more stuff, the best stuff. You stash it in the garage.

With the benefit of time and perspective, the resulting circumstance seems borderline inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you have a coherent explanation when asked just what the hell you’re doing knee deep in an ice-choked river on a raw December day. You think briefly of sundrenched afternoons and a sense of adventure, but mumble only “fishing” through wind-burned lips, then return your wooden fingers to their knot-work.

If that isn’t adequate explanation, you realize, nothing else would be.

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