Spring opens up new possibilites

The experience of leaving winter behind can be measured in many different ways.
For example, many revel at the trickling of water and the widening patches of grass.
Others have smiles that also open up as they lighten their footwear and breathe in the moistness of soft spring air.
And if you’re by a lake or river, you might watch an amazing transformation.
On our lake, for instance, the rain swept away the snow overnight, leaving nothing but puddles.
Which leads to the most noticeable change of all–the way people fish. Already boats are getting prepared while, at the same time, people are finishing the ice-fishing season.
As for me, the last day of winter was spent at a remote lake where some family and neighbours ice-fished.
It was an easy day. In fact, I must admit I didn’t even hold a rod. Instead of joining the others who fished, I decided to put my feet up and tend to the wafting heat of an open fire, not moving from the place where we grilled moose burgers.
There I gazed at the bald eagles circling overhead, and shared with the birds’ sense of lazy freedom.
Like them, I guess I’m an opportunist.
But the waiting didn’t last–soon a six-pound trout was caught, heralded by hoots and hollers. And in no time, the fish was open, lying on the gray ice and as pink and fresh as a bundle of cherry blossoms.
Not a big trout, since apparently they often are hooked at more than 10 pounds, but compared to the typical walleye, the fish impressed me a great deal.
And it satisfied me even more by the time it made it to our cabin table that night, providing a meal that travelled the shortest distance of the season.
What a perfect way to enjoy the last weekend of winter, especially compared to the same last days of a winter long ago.
The French explorers in 1658-59, for example, had it very rough. Pierre Radisson wrote in his diary during that year about a winter as miserable “as a graveyard” after barely making it through to spring.
He felt utter relief when the warmer winds and rains arrived because they announced survival.
For him during this time of year, a fish offered life.
Thinking about his hardship, my appreciation of leaving winter behind is deepened. None of us around here are hungry, and we fish for recreation.
Plus, we feel just enough sting of winter to truly feel exalted by the rejuvenation of spring. Especially as the ice prepares to break up, leaving nothing but rippling blue waters.
Yes, this time of year is not about enduring the end of a long season of hardship anymore. It’s about freeing up for all kinds of possibilities.
And it’s more beautiful than ever before.

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