The time: 5:30 a.m.
The sun is still hiding behind the curtain of the earth, waiting for its cue to begin its ascent into the sky.
The birds, even the early ones, have yet to wake to get their worms.
I wake up, get dressed, and sit out with a cup of coffee on the front porch, rocking back and forth, slowly, gently, in a handmade chair.
The only light comes from the pale white moon. The only sound comes from the slight creak of the wood under my weight.
Right before sunrise – it’s time.
I grab the tackle box and fishing pole I’d set out the night before. Gently shutting the door behind me, I step off the porch. The crunch of gravel, grass, and twigs underneath my feet are still the only sound to pierce my ears.
After about three minutes of walking, I finally get to the shore of the lake and find my boat right where I’d left it the day before.
As I look up into the sky, I see that it is finally beginning to illuminate. It’s a dull red and yellow, a stone-ground mustard. The clouds pepper the sky like seeds, little specks in the otherwise emulsified solution.
The boat is finally loaded up and I push off. I paddle left, paddle right, and paddle left some more until I’ve made it all the way out into the middle of the lake.
That’s when I hear it: the first chirp.
It’s as though an alarm went off in the wilderness. Once the dam was broken, a torrent of sound burst forth from the trees. Each one similar, but distinct in its own way. The wrens, the grackles, the raptors, and the mocking birds craft a symphony of sound that’s almost deafening.
After sitting for an hour or two, I decide to row back in. I haven’t caught anything, though I haven’t tried. I’ve spent most of my time sitting with my line resting in the water, reeling here and tugging there, but not giving enough effort to actually entice a catch.
That’s okay, though.
That doesn’t matter.
It’s the act – it’s the place – it’s the time that matters.
When I get to shore, I weigh down my boat and retrace my steps back through the woods.
Closer. Closer. Closer.
The smell of bacon frying in a pan is wafting through the front door.
Closer. Closer. Closer.
My dog runs out to meet me.
I kick my boots off on the porch and see my wife. I walk over to kiss her.
“Catch anything?” she asks. Just like she does every morning.
“Nothing today,” I reply. Just like I do every morning.
I sit down, flip through the paper, and eat my morning meal.