When the tourists pack it in, the river returns to it’s original state: paradise.
Like that morning, alone, standing in the water; I was having so much fun, like a kid pretending to be a fly fisherman and I set my sights in the river on gigantic, improbable fish, who laughed in my face.
The sun of september lightly pricked my shoulders and I closed my eyes in happiness when I heard, on the opposite bank, the cry of an child.
And I saw her; a little girl with a fishing rod whose line was caught in the top of a tree.
It’s known that I’m the tender heart of the artichoke, as well as being a cheap Ivanhoe, when I find others in pain (especially in children and ESPECIALLY in young girls) I can’t stop myself from flying to their rescue! And that’s what I did.
“I caught my spoon in the tree and I can’t get it out.” whimpered the child swallowing her tears.
“Don’t worry, my sweet child I’ll get your spoon back. Just stay here and watch me.” In spite of my almost 70 years, my vertebrae in chewing-gum and arthritis in my shoulders, I started to climb the stupid tree to detach the dumb spoon; to return the smile to the little girl in tears.
O.K. I know. I don’t pretend to be Tarzan or even Cheetah, his proud chimpanzee, but little by little I got to the bloody spoon and managed to detach it and let it fall to the feet of the sad child… who rushed off without a word of thanks. (That should teach me!) Climbing a tree may not be the most difficult of endeavors, but descending it without breaking a bone is another kettle of fish, especially when the branch where I set my food suddenly gave way beneath my considerable weight.
Vainly I tried to hang on to the rough trunk, without success; in slow motion I tumbled down into the brush of nettles and brambles. When I finally extricated myself, I was unrecognizable; my shorts, an old relic from Decathlon, were hanging on to my hips by a thread, only a conglomerate of shredded fabric hid, barely, my glorious anatomy.
Under these conditions my fishing day was over. I jumped on my motorcycle and headed home.
My gas tank was almost on empty, so I stopped at the village of Grospierres and when I entered the garage to pay Corinne, the cashier, she couldn’t help staring at my accoutrement and stifling her laughter.
“My poor sir… What happened to you to get you in this state?”
So, I told her the whole story and I had to listen to her guffaws, which I could hear even after I quit the garage and passed the round-point on D104.
When I took the left that heads toward the village of Beaulieu I saw them hiding, as usual, behind an embankment. The two cops, like Laurel and Hardy of Ardeche. The skinny one signaled me to stop.
“Your papers, please.”
When I bent over to search the saddlebag for my damned papers, Laurel noticed that I was almost nude.
“What is the meaning of this indecent outfit? Do you know that I could pull you in for indecent exposure?”
So, then I told him the whole story; after trying to stifle his guffaws he pulled himself together and became serious.
“Then, you’re a fly fisherman? That’s strange, so am I, imagine that!”
And like two old friends, there we were at the side of the road, exchanging little secrets of fabricating our favorite flies. Very strange, never before this very instant would I have dared to imagine talking to a cop! Just goes to show that fly fishing offers multitudes of unknown surprises. When I left him, he had even forgotten to verify my identity papers and gave me a big salute as though we were childhood friends.
My arrival at the house was equally theatrical. First, on seeing me my wife couldn’t suppress a cry of terror: “My poor darling, what happened to you?”
So I repeated the story (for the third time!!), my sad story. My wife burst out laughing and couldn’t stop herself. And when my she laughs, my wife becomes a real beauty queen and I always have a hard time stopping myself from jumping on her.
“My poor darling, if you had chosen ping-pong instead of fishing, we wouldn’t laugh as much or as often!” And as she unhooked her bra, she giggled: “and life would be much less sexy!”
And what followed proves that she was perfectly right.