To Hold: Sustainability of the Cast

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A whisper and snap as the line slices and whips the air. The hush, as the dry fly gently lays upon the water, attempting to lure a fish to the surface. A fish. Pure anticipation sublimates the work-a-day rhythm of casting and stripping. The glorious jolt of a strike is a sweet interruption. Casts are not discreet acts but transform into a lineage, priesthood, of a single metaphysical cast, transcendent of space and time. Before the Seventh Day, the Anglers song began in a whisper, crescended in a snap and tapered to the dust of a kiss in a perfectly presented fly.

The Anglers song has spawned enough casts to circle the globe, again and again. Enough line to five times lasso the tip of the crescent moon, ending in a neat little clinch knot. A gentle tug at each wrap, tips the moon, ever so slightly. Tides stutter, fish gasp and wonder, for a moment. The man-boy perched on the south horn of the crescent, tugged and flicked off balance, falls from sky to earth, morphing into gold dust, setting creeks and oceans to shimmer.

Indeed, fly lines and crescent moons are a whimsical notion. Yet there is little whimsy in climate change and no romance in dead streams. The environment is an extraordinarily complex matrix of physical and abstract dependencies and its scope burdens the imagination. Healthy streams and rivers, the home for our beloved fish, are an essential part of a flourishing environment. Prudent management of these waters requires a passion for patience in nudging their appropriate evolution. As a result, humility, brutal science, mystical art and a dose of courage are crucial to cultivating natural resiliency in ecosystems. The polemics of politics and our occasional, collective inability to address the environment writ large has inhibited a satisfying policy outcome. The time is well past for phronesis—practical wisdom—in environmental policy.

  • Colleen Lyons

    Colleen Lyons is a fly fishing novice who loves the look and feel of the sport and greatly appreciates the patient guidance of authentic fly fishermen. When not on the water, she can be found wading in the weeds of business and bioethics.

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