Chapter 4: Beauty’s Where You Find It

The rain clouds kept gathering up, and finally the first drops of rain started falling from the sky, from their formation in the grey bowels of the cumulonimbus clouds, pushed slightly sideways by gusts of wind, down towards the ground, and then finally breaking apart on the yellow poncho that the Urban Angler had thrown over himself just a few minutes before. He had parked QuickSilver, his Urban Assault Vehicle, against the large oak tree and now settled himself against the same tree, it’s large limbs offering some protection from the rain. “Looks like a brief one, won’t rain too hard” said the Urban Angler to himself. Leaning back against the tree, he dug out his old corncob pipe and his tobacco pouch. “Hmmm, probably a good time for a smoke — maybe a little Nutt Brown Burly with some Vermont Maple Cavendish” he said as he started the ritual of loading the pipe and lighting it. As he sat there, gently puffing and enjoying the pipe, he looked out at the retention pond he had been fishing.

There was nothing beautiful about it, at first and even second glance. It’s probably why all the local residents quickly drove past, or walked right by the pond with hardly a look. The small pond did not have a lot of pretty vegetation growing close to the shore — it had been removed because of concerns about snakes. As if snakes were a concern! They were a blessing and needed — they were top-notch predators who kept the insect, lizard, toad/frog and even rat population in check. At the Urban Angler’s home, he had two large Black Racers that he would catch glances of once in a while. They had a habit of laying in his hedge with about 6″ of their heads lifted up over their surroundings, tongue flicking out to sample the air around them. They were beautiful — smooth, sleek, jet-black uppers with a soft-white underside and throat.

The pond could not hold snakes without the shore vegetation, but at least there was vegetation in the water. Out towards the middle, the pond was deep enough to support a small lilypad population. Nothing large, but the shade it provided was enough to keep the local bream population close by, and therefore the bass were probably close by as well. The drainage culvert that directed all of the run-off in the area was gurgling now, and the Urban Angler could see the small minnows and bream picking off whatever small bits of food came tumbling out into the pond. Occasionally, a larger swirl took place — a bream chased by a bass. “And anyone who can’t see beauty in that is just missing it” said the Urban Angler. “Nature at work”.

Other ponds and lakes in the area had their own special beauty, if you looked. Some did have shore vegetation, and early in the morning you would see the dew-drenched Morning Glories opened up as their vines had intertwined with whatever it could touch. Of course there was wildlife. The male red-winged Blackbirds would be calling out and flying around from cattail to cattail. In certain ponds you would see ducks — Coots and Mallards mostly. Then there were the wading shorebirds, ever-graceful as they slowly walked the shallows — the White Egrets, the odd Green Herons, and occasionally the grand Great Blue Heron. How could anyone not see the beauty in all that?

As the rain slowed up, the Urban Angler put out the pipe and stashed it in his pocket, took off his poncho, shook it out, and then folded it up neatly and placed it into the Urban Assault Vehicle’s carry-bag. He took the Towney Two-Weight, strung it up and attached a size 10 olive Wooly Bugger and walked down close to the culvert. Stripping some line off the reel, he false-cast twice before sending the fly out to deeper waters near the lillypad. Before he had a chance to start a retrieve, the flyline went tight and a bass leapt from the water and tail-walked it’s way away. The Urban Angler grinned, and stripped in a small bass that didn’t quite go 12″ in length. He studied the bass — the green back with the black markings, the white underbelly, the head that took up almost a third of it’s whole body-length, the size of the mouth. Beautiful. He lowered the scrappy largemouth back into the water, and with a swish from it’s tail it zoomed out of the Angler’s hands and back into the depths.

Fish were beautiful. He remembered the purple iridescence on the heads of the giant bluegills in his own pond near his house, and the deep orange-red of the red-breasted sunfish on the Wekiva. He remembered the intense green, black and orange in the Peacock bass he caught in the canals of metro Miami. The beautiful tail-spots of turquoise and orange of the Mayan cichlids and Oscars from Alligator Alley. And of course he remembered the beautiful colored splotches and dots of the Brook and Brown trout, and the red slashes on the Cutthroat and Rainbows he’d caught up in the mountain streams of Colorado. All different, all beautiful.

The dark clouds had moved off to the East, and now the setting sun in the West threw it’s remaining energy at the clouds, producing a sight that everyone delighted in and saw as beautiful. The rainbow was only half-formed, but it shown vibrant in the sky. One end came down to the ground …. “that’s where the gold is” he thought and smiled again.

The Urban Angler mounted Quicksilver, and was off just as the sun set. The missus would have supper ready, he thought. As he slowly pedaled his way towards his home, he thought again of the little retention pond just a few blocks from the homestead.

“Beauty’s where you find it” — and the Urban Angler smiled again “but it’s usually right in front of you “.