C.L. Sill

A tinge of anticipation starts to arise as the winter lull wanes in early March. 

As the world wakes up around me, so too does my ambition for the year to come. This spring, and I use that word cautiously, is particularly exciting. Not only are we coming to the end of a long winter, but also the end of what has undoubtedly been the strangest year of all our lives. 

The unrelenting distraction of this pandemic finally appears to be easing, and the timing couldn’t be better. I’m hopeful after a year of disrupted lives, discarded plans and downright weirdness, we’re on the cusp of a return to normalcy. 

I’ve said this before, I don’t want to make this out to be worse than it was, I mean it’s not like we lived through the Great Depression. But it has been tumultuous year and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say I’ll be glad to have it fully in the rear view.  

With the light shining consistently brighter at the end of the COVID tunnel, it’s high time to plan 2021, uninterrupted. 

Oftentimes I find planning hunts/trips/escapades more enjoyable than the execution. There’s a cheesy quote in there somewhere about the journey not the destination blah, blah, blah…

All clichés aside, it’s generally true. For whatever reason, my naivety meter resets every winter and I emerge triumphantly each spring filled with hair-brained ideas about the year to come, and they all seem foolproof in the abstract. 

“We have to hunt the St. Croix in kayaks this year.”

“But we don’t have any kayaks.”

“Duh, lets buy some.”

“What about the dog?”

“We’ll buy another kayak, train her to sit still in it, tie it to our kayaks and tow her up the river behind us.” 

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These ideas often center on buying some new gadget that will theoretically make your outdoor life almost too easy and result in nearly automatic limits every time you use said item in its intended capacity. These include, but are not limited to, new shotguns, waders, binoculars, fly line, shock collars, muck boots, cook stoves and nasty freeze dried meals in a bag that cost more than most steak dinners. 

Optimism is also at its highest in March. Pulling off crack shots on passing ducks and landing a musky on the fly seem pretty straightforward when you’re sitting at home on the couch watching other people do it on YouTube. 

“Hell, I could do that,” starts to slip out of your mouth more and more often, until by late February you’ve convinced yourself the Internet has made you the second coming of Jeremiah Johnson and all sportsman must bow to your prowess in the field. 

Luckily the first two items on the agenda are always spring steelhead and spring turkey, both of which are guaranteed to destroy whatever confidence you’ve managed to accrue over the course of the winter. Nothing shocks you back into reality more efficiently than standing in freezing cold water fishing for a ‘roided up trout that doesn’t seem to actually exist or being routinely duped by a bird with a brain the size of a quarter. 

I’ll take either of those over the ambient, sedentary blur that’s enveloped my spare time in the last two months. March brings hope, opportunity and optimism. I need all three — as do we all after enduring what felt like the decade of 2020. 

C.L. Sill can be reached at thewingbeat@gmail.com




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