The last days of November I find myself in full on psychic panic if the following two conditions present themselves: 1. fishable water without ice blankets and 2. temperatures above 39 degrees. So when Nov. 26 rolled around this year, I curbed this obsession by not paying too much attention to the weather forecast and conjuring up visions ice at the first emergence of a trout thought.
This year, my spouse and I have committed to trying to start a new Thanksgiving tradition that involves more controllable elements. We will be taking a long walk in the woods followed by a dinner out. We will be walking a 10 mile loop taking us to mossy pine forests, through the wreckage of a rock slide, alongside 4 bodies of water that support native eastern brook trout populations, and into the vast sightline of Zealand Notch.
By the time we have coffee, goof around, butter and consume toast, and get gear packed it’s almost 10 am. Okay, grab the headlamp that illuminates more than 24″ in front of you…and double check batteries. Done. After dropping a car, we arrive at the trailhead in a bit of a rush realizing that we are simply unwilling to spend Thanksgiving Day with our hearts pumping out of our chests for the first miles of elevation gain. That said, we hike with a focus on kicking up the pace a bit on the flat and drop sections. Darkness hiking… not a favorite on my activity list. And we avoid the necessity. Emerging form the hike about 3:30, it’s time to head home and prepare for the second part of our day.
If the 10 miles of environmental wonder wasn’t enough to get someone flirting with gratitude, the warmth of the post-hike shower and coffee should seal the deal. After a fair amount of calories out, we are careful not to snack too much as we are fully dedicated to the goal being in good gluttony condition to fully enjoy the 5 course Thanksgiving meal at Notchland Inn.
If you haven’t felt a twinge of gratitude yet today, the remainder of the evening will plunge you into a full on spiral of thanks. The replenishing of calories amongst soft yellow light, the faint clanking of glasses, quiet conversations amongst friends, the promise of unlimited deserts and more coffee as a finale, the restless happiness of tired legs, being with the person you love most in the world- well, it’s a large, bright pink Coho Salmon on the banks of an Alaskan River caught on the first fly you have every tied. Thank you.