First of January.

It was forty degrees at midnight. Six hours later, the temperature was eight. The roads were clear, and everything south and west was wet, but not icy. The creek was supposed to bump up a few feet per second. I took my time with coffee and breakfast and loading the car.

Really, they got more snow than we did- but whatever might have stuck to the road sublimated overnight in the bitter cold. It’s the first time I’ve felt eight or ten degrees this season; aside from dunking the rod to clear ice every few casts, it isn’t as bad as I remember. There’s five or ten robins in every big tree and hundreds more along the gravel bars, drinking and bathing and bracing against the cold, their song mixing with the sound of running water. It’s just me and them until the line comes to life.

I fish the same beat, hit the same sweet spots, though their changing subtly as beavers work here and there, as the creek wanders, favoring new paths through its channel. Another month and wild rainbows will be digging redds and releasing eggs. A month after that the first bloodroot and spring beauty will start peeking up from last year’s leaves. A month later, maybe, the pheasant’s back mushrooms, the first morels.

Another new year has begun.

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