WOMEN’S RIVER.
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“My love, what do you think about our going to YOUR river tomorrow and you can teach me the rudiments of the famous fly fishing?”

On hearing this announcement I surely had an incredulous look on my face. Unbelieveable! For years my lovely sweetheart had systematically refused my offers to come to the river with me.

“The garden is MY river, my territory, my adventure. It’s where I discover prodigious miracles. Like you, everyday I try to tame nature, to open my eyes and fill my heart with all that beauty.”

It’s easy to be convinced by my lovely, so everyday I jump on my motorcycle and head for the rivers; there I amble for hours in the streams with my fly rod in hand and the hope, rarely achieved, of touching even for an instant, the robe of a magnificent wild trout.

And today, my Puanani invites herself to share my voyage. What Joy!

Very quickly I prepared a frugal picnic, tied up my rod to the motorcycle and we were off. Normally I drive pretty fast, but this morning I rolled along slowly; my lovely was seated behind, with her arms wrapped tightly around me, whispering sweet words though my helmet which the the motor partly drowned out.

There was no question of going to the Ardeche river where my sweetheart would risk being horrified by the thousands of canoes and kayaks, nor did I want the capricious rivers so difficult to tame. Soon I parked my motorcycle near a little stream, so little that I don’t even know it’s name, where I knew that no tourist would dare to set foot.

I knew a little hole surrounded by beautiful acacias, a little lagoon populated by a bunch of little fish, sunnies, blue gills, minnows as fast as mercury; an ideal place to learn how to cast a fly.

“you see, my love, you just let the line extend in back of you and hop! The action of the rod does all the work. Look, watch me… It does it all by itself… And there, you stop your cast at 10 o’clock; if not your line will make a lot of noise when it hits the water and… goodbye fish.

I put the rod in her hands and rapidly my Puanani cast her fly with an astonishing dexterity. What an incredible girl!!! t’s been more than 30 years that we have been together and for more than 30 years she has not ceased to astonish me.

Around noon we stopped the lessons and sat beneath the shade of a poplar tree to open our picnic basket. AH! The little goat cheeses from the Divol Farm. Ah! The thin slices of dry sausages and pickles on small loaves of french bread with a glass of cold wine as accompaniment. Ah! The handfuls of dark cherries that I pilfered the night before behind the vineyard… Ah! What bliss to see my wife endlessly smiling at me. (He who has not seen Puanani smile doesn’t know the charm, can have no idea of the amazing grace.)

I know, I sound like a jerk… that it’s really soppy to say something like that. And I can hear a number of you saying “he ate too many marshmallows, the Flèche; poor guy, at his age, he’s completely soft in the head… ready for the “Leaning Pines” retirement home.

Too bad for you, I declare my happiness loud and strong and the grouches can just go and piss off!

When I opened my eyes, after a good hour of siesta under the poplars, I noticed Puanani in the middle of the river capturing her zillionth bluegill , giving it a little bang on the head and apologizing: “Sorry little fish… It’s for tonight’s dinner!” And hop, the little fish disappears into the cloth sack hanging from the hip of my wife. What a marvelous spectacle! In no time she became a veritable fisherwoman and each time she hooked a little silver flash, it was accompanied by squeals of joy.

After cleaning and grilling this godsend, I opened a bottle of Cotes-du-Rhone and we sat on the veranda of our house to enjoy our royal feast.

“My darling, today we shared YOUR river and it was marvelous. Tomorrow morning I invite you to share MY river.  You’ll see, it is equally as passionate as yours. We have to pull out the weeds, prune the rosemary hedges, remove the slugs attracted by the recent rains, turn the soil around the zucchinis and get rid of the hornets who have installed themselves in the almond tree. After that we have to mow the grass behind the house. It resembles the hair of Michel Simon!”

Today, thoroughly exhausted, my arms covered with cuts and scratches, my fingernails black with earth and my right thigh dangerously doubled in volume after an encounter with a brutal, nazi hornet, I can affirm that there is absolutely no resemblance between the gentle, singing rivers of man where laughing fish wink at us and the terrorist rivers of women where our painful vertebrae cruelly remind us that we are no longer 20 years old.