Essay by Anthony Naples
verb un·rav·el \ˌən-ˈra-vəl\
1a: to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle
1b: to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of
2: to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up (unravel a mystery)
A good day unravels. Somewhere along the way, as the thread on your fly begins to come apart― to separate into the smaller components, to unwind from itself, spilt into the thinner strands― you realize that today is shaping up into a good day. The inclinations of the fish, the mood of the skies, the state of your patience and will power, the schedule… these have all come together in just the right way. It is like a syzygy of fishing. The Earth, Sun and Moon have aligned. The gravity of the situation can be felt in your bones— there has been a tectonic shift and you have been transported from your sofa or desk chair to a beech, hickory and hazel lined stream valley. It can get complicated before it gets simple.
It’s not easy to become uncomplicated. It is not easy to become untangled. When you open up the junk drawer that is in the kitchen of your mind you find a tangled mess: kite string, rubber bands, corn holders, crescent wrench, threads of various colors, 9v batteries, tarantulas, scraps of paper with scribbled notes about things which need doing (written in code), lost friends, regrets, broken promises (to self and others), keys that belong to doors that you no longer own… It can be overwhelming to sort it all out.
But on an early fall day you pull that junk drawer open and find just the things that you need. You pull on a strand of twinkling coolness and a mountain stream unfurls. Its wings wet still after emerging from its chrysalis. Yes— streams emerge like butterflies. A fish hook, a spool of thread and a forgotten feather found below the bird feeder (the aftermath of the Cooper’s hawk vs. dove) have managed to become as entangled as love and anger and forgiveness. They have formed flies.
You open an envelope with strange scrawling on it in smeared pencil. You peek inside and it contains just the beginning end of a valley with a wooden signpost and arrow pointing up into the folded misty depths. And so you hastily cram all this stuff into that custom-made fishing pack that you bought, but which doesn’t get near enough use, and scramble quickly to the car and head off in the direction that you are tugged.
Things begin to unravel.
Unwinding up the valley, around trees and brambles, under deadfalls, over streams… a dance of disentanglement. The fish eat the fly. You bring them up through that silvered surface and marvel at each one. With each fish the fly becomes just a little more unraveled. And so do you. The fish whisper secrets about entropy to you and promise to take some of yours if you let them go. And so you do. And things make a little more sense—become a little less obscured by disorder.
Anthony Naples is based in Western Pennsylvania, and has been a positive voice in the tenkara community since 2009. He is the former proprietor of Three Rivers Tenkara, and currently writes on his blog, Casting Around where he hosts the Flyside Chats interview series.
This piece first appeared on the Casting Around blog in September 2015.
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