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Spring in the Catskills
A Time of New Traditions
To celebrate my first trip to the water this trout season, I bought a case of Miller Lite. It felt good to stride into the walk-in cooler at Peck’s Market in Livingston Manor, NY, and stride out with a box of 24 cans of the good stuff. Well maybe not the good stuff, but at least the acceptable stuff. Anyway, I was happy.
I had quite a morning in Livingston Manor. I visited the great Upstream Wine and Spirits, where Meg, the owner, had put together a mixed case for me. I stopped in the immortal Dette Flies, for some Parachute Adams. I visited the great Catskill Fly Fishing Museum, where I’ll be having a book signing for The Optimist, on Saturday, May 29th. So if you’re in the Catskills Memorial Day Weekend please come by (more details on that in the future). I had some brisket at The Smoke Joint and thought a town doesn’t need much more than this (except a good bookstore).
Finally, I went to Main Street Farm where I saw handsome black bottles of India Pale Ale from Maine Beer Company. This surprised me, since I didn’t realize they were available this far from Maine. I visited the brewery in Freeport with some friends from L.L. Bean and was really impressed with their whole production, not to mention their unusually good pilsner.
But that pilsner was on draft in the place it was made. This was pale ale in bottles a few states away. It felt like an equation for disappointment. But why not be open minded? Why not make room in my heart to a Maine Beer Company? Why not embrace a new stream-side tradition? I left with a bottle.
I still drank a Miller Lite as I pulled on my waders for the first time in seven months—I wasn’t quite ready for the new beer but I was excited to try my new little 7 1/2’ 3 wt. rod. I slowly stepped into the water. In April the Catskills is still coming into the season—there had been frost on the hilltops when we woke up in the morning. The leaves weren’t on the trees yet but there was cheerful green moss on the large stones along the banks.
It was nice to be outside in a beautiful place and think of the world returning to more normal rhythms. Casting across the stream and letting the Adams drift down a clear pool was as cathartic as anything I’ve done since quarantine began. The fishing, as you can imagine, was incidental, (though we got some later in the trip, and that was reassuring, too).
Afterward, I stood with some friends on the porch of a cabin and opened the pale ale. And in that place, at that moment, I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted anything better. Everything aligned. It felt like the season of new traditions.