Then, as I stood in front of the kitchen sink and savored the pines, I noticed the tiny green buds peeking out of the branches just outside the window. Just the week before the cherry trees had been bare and expressionless but now the buds swelled from their branches, and in just another week or so, there would be blossoms in their place. My mind flashed forward to July and to the aroma of freshly baked homemade cherry pies.
My attention was drawn through the branches to the three SUVs that were parked in our gravel lot. Six fly fishermen, lawyers from downstate, had ventured north for their annual fishing trip, a getaway from their frenetic world even if only for a day or two. I could tell by watching the way they unloaded their fly rods and their gear and strapped on their waders that they were relieved to be in the north. Their movements were animated and they laughed big, like men who had just had a burden lifted from their shoulders. Just a few yards away was the river they had waited all winter to visit.
Like so many fishermen before them, these men were drawn to the historic AuSable River and its calm, steady current that winds its way from Grayling to Lake Huron. The stretch of the river we call home is just below the Mio Dam. It is a wild portion of the river that eagles, cranes, ducks, beavers, and other animals call home. Anglers from all over the world have come to call it the Trophy Waters because of its large number of trophy-sized brown and rainbow trout.
The six lawyer-fishermen will ply their fly fishing skills here, which they have done for several years now. With hands firmly gripping graphite rods instead of pens and Blackberries, they will cast tight fly lines and watch intently as the Hendricksons, StoneFlies, and Blue Wing Olives they bought at our shop settle on the surface of the riffles. They will stay on the river all day and into the early darkness, waiting, hoping for the sudden thrill that comes when a fish finally rises and bites. But these men were drawn here for more than just the trout and the beauty of the river.
Like the softening of the trees after a hard winter, the AuSable can soften and renew a spirit that has been worn down by the stress of a busy and out of control life.