The Fish await my arrival.

circa 2011 The Yellow Bench Stories

There are many things to look forward to each and every year and the opening of fishing season is definitely high on my list. The seasons might change, our recreational interests might vary but our memories last forever.

It’s Monday morning and I am back on The Yellow Bench in front of the old Tatamagouche Library. There is plenty of traffic in and out of the Post Office despite the fact that is unseasonably cold, in fact uncomfortably cold. As I watch the Ford pickups go by I notice that in most cases the snowmobiles have been replaced by an aluminum boat or a canoe. Both hood bonnets signify that Spring has arrived. I crossed Murdoch Bridge on the Waugh’s River this morning and there were 23 trucks parked. The Once a Year Anglers were sitting on the bank or they were asleep in their lawn chairs. Pity the brown trout, Pity the worm.

Buddy down the Road just went into the bank, he won’t stop to chat with me . He’s on his morning mission. First it’s the bank to take his allowance out and then on to the Chowder House where he will assist in resolving Canada’s most serious question, who will win the Stanley Cup.

Good here comes William, he will join me in front of the Yellow Bench and no doubt I will learn something that I already know but never fully appreciated that it was important in the Big Scheme of things. William moved to Tatamagouche some 20 years ago. He is a retired college professor, now gone rural native.

I say gone native because he fits right in. He is a regular at every bake sale, church supper or Saturday at the Market. William can always be found selflessly advising anyone who will listen to him on how to experience life the perfect way, his way.

William rarely leaves the village to shop. He never drives hundreds of kms to Costco or Superstore. William appears to thrive on food for the mind not the body. He told me that cerebral nourishment can be found anywhere, one has just to sit still and observe.

When I asked William was he going to fish the river today he smiled and then replied, no.

Then the good advice followed.

He told me that when he was boy he regularly went trout fishing with his Uncle and his Uncle’s friends. The trip was always somewhere near Canso or Mulgrave. Sure they all caught fish and he laughed when he recalled the tall tales of the ones that always got away. He told me that great fishing stories are only outnumbered by the black flies you encounter.

He remembered the cold beer and the warm rum that was passed around the cabin. Card games that no one appeared to have won and falling asleep listening to the Spring Peepers until the candles flickered to dark and quiet.

William told me that if you ask any angler what  his special memory of fishing is, that fish will always be low on the list. The important thing is the time spent with family and friends on the lake or wading in the river.

I am off home to have lunch and perhaps my next fishing memory will be the one that awaits on the river this afternoon.

Quietly Retired on Waugh’s River

Edward C Sampson

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