guess. Think we ought to try the Rio Grande this afternoon?"
much worse," Jim said, as he winged the trout guts into the bushes.
I was looking past
him to where the rivers disappeared around the bend. It was bitter cold. Then
the snow turned the corner of the gorge and rushed at us like a white freight
train. In one looping arc an air mattress levitated and wafted slowly toward
the river. Jim laughed a gallows laugh as I took off after it, sliding down the
steep embankment to the Grande, hopping into the stream and over the rocks to
me," I shouted to Jim. "It never snows in New Mexico in early
Jim had lost it.
He was skipping around the scattered coals of our cedar-wood fire, singing,
"The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, let it
snow, let it snow, let it snow...."
Our retreat wasn't
the orderly light-pack ascent we'd counted on. We hadn't had time to eat
anything, and we agreed not to leave any rib-eye steaks for our four-legged
friends. The potatoes we parted with—but only after pulling imaginary pins and
hurling them into the Rio Grande. On the way out of the gorge, snow dusted the
gravel trail, creating good slash and bash conditions—just how we like it. The
second time he fell, Jim looked at me, brushed the slush from his eyebrows and
said, "At least we won't have to worry about the fly rods for another
I'll say this
about Jim and me. We can take a joke. (This is another fishing tip: No sense in
going for trout if you can't take a joke.) The way we figured it, the Rio
Grande gorge owed us. But we were smart enough to admit that there are some
debts you'll grow old trying to collect. That's just the way it is.
When it came time
to plan our next trip, I baited Jim with this old expression about the weather
in New England: If you don't like it, just wait a minute.
said, "with that kind of adage on our side, the most we'll get is bad
weather half the time, and that'll be 50 percent better than what we usually
He fell for it,
and I got us a farmhouse in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for some fall
fishing. "With any luck," I told him, "we'll get a crack at some
Indian summer, and maybe some spawning browns. I hear they run big up there in
the fall—two, three pounds."