the pleasures of a quick fix The pleasures of a quick fix It’s cold out again with a sky the colour of wet aluminum. I slip out under the guise of an errand. In less than half an hour I’ve left the overly heated house with its layers of guests and descended into the gorge, tires crunching gravel as I make my way. I park next to the familiar fire road sign and pull on waders. Old, neoprene jobs that carry the scent of rivers and car trunks both western and eastern. The trees are bent with a glaze of ice and a tunnel forms around me as I walk down and towards the mineral smell of water. Quiet out save for the crunching of boots and the odd bird call. As I approach, the creek becomes a rivulet of mercury tumbling through the greyness of the woods. After an hour my hands are numb and the sky is growing darker still. Throwing a rod mid winter seems a lonely pastime. I’ve changed flies three times and never seem satisfied. Having less than low expectations I absentmindedly fish the stream. What have I missed? The narrow, but deep pool next to the dead chestnut seemed barren. The eddy below the gravel bar- deserted. Upstream is a mess of fallen timber and the water deepens. In my mind I’m already back in the car-rubbing hands against the heater vents and running through scenarios that best account for my absence. The stream chokes down where it nears New Years creek and the wind dies.. I tie on a brown midge and fish downstream a bit- Close to where the trail crosses. In minutes the leader is frozen again and the miniscule fly seems ridiculous at the business end of the line. I half notice as something quick and small darts from beneath an outcropping and suddenly there is that ephemeral tug. There is no heroic struggle, no spool being stripped . I quietly land the brookie and lift him from the water. He is tiny, as all the native ones are here, yet exquisite. In the summer this fish would be an afterthought, or a source of ridicule. Today he is everything. A jewel box of colour in a landscape defined by its very absence.