By ANNE B. HOWARD- After a brutal and depleting Montana winter, our first river sojourn will be good medicine. Unplugged, untangled and unconcerned, we’ll drift silently down an emerald current, casting into wise ancient waters, convinced that catching fish is not the point.
In spring of 2016, Keith and I anchored for lunch along the secluded bank of a small island on the Missouri River. Startled, a large flock of Canadian Geese took to the sky, protesting loudly, as awe-struck, we stumbled upon enormous down-lined nests filled with glistening eggs the size of tennis-balls, warming in the midday sun.
Eagles soared above our heads, following the boat as we cast our flies, and swooped to the surface to pick off fingerlings rising from the depths for a closer look. Deer and butterfly frolicked in the sweet tall grasses along the bank, oblivious to our silent craft, while squawking pelicans lined the shore of a tiny island downstream. Rounding the bend, we surprised a grazing herd of elk, and marveled at their startled yet curious effort to make sense of our form. Sniffing and snorting, the big buck turned. Alarmed, the others followed, heading for the cover of trees.
At the end of the day, our nets came up empty, but our hearts are still filled with the memory of a magnificent day on the Mighty Mo, together. With each passing year, and each new birthday, I feel a deepened urgency to visit the river often, while we still can. We are never more alive than when we live in the moment on rivers, Keith and I. The joy has always been in the journey. Our destination will arrive soon enough.