2017-12-06 / Opinion

BACKROADS AND BOBTAILS

Sometimes Just Watching is all you need
by Bob Kornegay

Watching a cork bobber float lazily on the surface of a pond or a slow-flowing stream is a pretty cool thing. Despite all my rewarding experiences with more “sophisticated” angling pursuits, I’ve never outgrown the pleasure that gives me.

I’ve gazed upon many a bobbing cork in my time, from age four to the present. Never in my cork-watching career can I recall fretting about anything while thus engaged. It’s simply impossible. I can’t conjure up a worry to save my life. Makes no difference if that old bobber’s being tugged beneath the water’s surface by a hefty crappie or bluegill or just lying there dead still, doing nothing. I just sit there watching it and nothing seems to bother me.

Thinking on that, I’m reminded of a number of things besides fishing corks that lend themselves well to worry-free observation. There are untold things out there worth watching.

Take sunrises and sunsets, for instance. They don’t last very long, but the no-fret period they afford me is pretty intense and powerful. Good thing, too. Right after sunrise I have to start worrying about schedules, deadlines, and life in general. After sunset I must usually deal with the vexing realization that it’s getting dark and I have once again forgotten my flashlight.

Watching birds comes to mind as well. Birdwatchers are never apt to become too discombobulated. There’s something about birding that always soothes me. A soaring red-tailed hawk, the brilliant hues of a cardinal, the perkiness of a Carolina wren; all these help sweep away my worries. Of course, there are those sadistic little sparrows and warblers that refuse to sit still long enough for me to make a positive identification. I admit they have at times made me weep, gnash my teeth, and wish fervently for a shotgun. Still, on the whole, it’s a reasonably relaxing pastime. Really comes in handy when the fish aren’t biting, too.

Then there’s the pleasure of watching flowing water. What’s more soothing than observing a winding, slow-moving creek or river? The sight can lull me into pleasant musing or even peaceful slumber. Indoors people have recently picked up on the therapeutic effects of this phenomenon. One notices more and more wall fountains, indoor garden pools and water sculptures these days. I, for one, think that trend is a good thing. With one exception: There’s a continuously tinkling wall fountain in the waiting room of my urologist’s office. My waits there average 30 minutes to an hour. Need I explain further? Thought not.

I’m also mesmerized by falling leaves; cascades of red, brown and gold showering down around me in the chill of an autumn morning. Ah, yes. Watch the leaves fall, forget your troubles. Don’t worry, be happy. Works every time. Until the deer I see too late because I’m watching leaves turns out to be a Boone & Crockett ten-point with a rack the size of a denuded cedar tree. Watching trophy bucks bound away is a bit less than soothing.

I love watching mountain trout rise to feed on hatching insects late in the afternoon or Lake Seminole bluegills sucking down mayflies in early summer. I haven’t a care in the world as I “match the hatch” and tie on a suitable fly. I gaze in worry- free wonder as my line flows gracefully in a flawless cast and settles on the surface of the pool. I watch the fly alight upon the water in a beautiful presentation. As usual, the trout aren’t fooled. Nothing’s biting. Except maybe the bear that shows up or the mayfly-disguised wasps from the huge nest in the willow tree.

Ah, well. Sometimes watchful reverie in the outdoors isn’t so relaxing and soothing after all. So much for mellowing out my readers today.

To heck with it. I’m gonna go out and watch a cork. Perhaps it will inspire me.

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