The Takeout Bar


I was once the lone child among men, fishing and floating Montana rivers. The Big Hole and Jefferson were primary, but there was the Beaverhead, Madison and Yellowstone too, in spring, summer and fall, in heat and blustery chill. Those days come back in bits: learning to row and to fish, to pass the time at first, but then for passion, bait, then lure and finally fly, waiting for a strike (fish on!), laughing at the men’s joking, their hearts lightened by water, sun, fish and beer, waiting for the takeout and for the shuttle to end, the leaves green and budding, gold and falling, grey and fallen, swimming and heat in summer, shivering in spring and fall, sand in squishy shoes, wet pants and boat floor, hatches of caddis, mayfly, salmon fly, bugs in eyes and shirt, frenzied fish (in my dreams) and fishermen, and at the end of the day a stop at the takeout bar. There, a kid’s limitless desire for sugar could be sated — 7Up and red Nibs please — and for the men, who would be loose and happy, one last drink to push away the sinking feeling of a good day ending. One would start the jukebox, someone else a game of pool and the drinks would be passed around, making the day just a few moments longer, prolonging the feeling of life, of youth and of Montana rivers.

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