I drive back south into the ice age landscape of Rocky Ford Creek. The last leg takes you through glacial rubble to the creek tucked in at the base of the ancient moraine ridge.
It's the first trip of February. Like the glass half full or half empty, February is either the last month of Winter or the first month of Spring, depending on your attitude.
For me it's the latter, a month of nascent beginnings. Perhaps that's because it's the month of my birth. The birthstone is amethyst, the "stone of royalty," representing "power."
I prefer to think of it as the power of life to overcome darkness and death. Life has been doing that all winter long, but now, this month, you can begin to witness it in the shifting of the light, hear it in the modulation of bird songs, and feel it in the exhalation of the waking earth.
There are more ducks on the water. Red-winged blackbirds are still singing, and meadowlarks outdo them, trilling their hearts out. Crows and ravens call out to the world from high overhead, and a Great blue heron cronks from somewhere deep in the cattails.
I fish hard, throwing a variety of flies, topwater and subsurface. Countless times fish respond with everything just short of a hookup. It's one of those days that feels like reading a good book: you just keep turning the pages eager to find out how the story will end.
Meanwhile the breeze pushes the clouds over the ridge like an aerial glacier, and the long-missed sun bathes the earth with color.
And with that an amethyst trout comes up under my drifting stimulator and attempts to make off with it.
It isn't long--or it doesn't seem long--before the sun sinks behind a new encroaching bank of clouds, and the sky itself takes on an amethyst hue.
I fish awhile longer, hoping for the ending of the story in which I catch another large trout. But I have already reached the end of the story. I make my way through the cattails back to the truck.
It's almost dark by the time I'm ready to go. I'm gratified to observe that it's almost 6 o'clock. Somehow, all at once, I have received the gift of an extra hour on the water.
I drive through the glacial plain toward the highway that will take me home. Ahead of me Venus glitters brilliantly in the western sky, and above it, like a pale shadow, Mars.
Turning north at the highway I'm suddenly aware of a bright glow over the ridge to my right. I drive on until I reach the parking area at Dry Falls, the deep hole in the ground made by the monumental waterfall created when an ancient ice dam gave way, draining a Montana-sized inland sea right through where I'm standing, forming the Grand Coulee.
I get out of the truck to watch for a moment as the full moon rises over the city of Grand Coulee, accompanied by the largest planet of them all, Jupiter.
The February full moon, in native american tradition, is called the Snow Moon, because of the heavy snows that can come without warning at this time of winter; or the Hunger Moon, because of the difficulty of hunting in the deep snows, and the depletion of other food stores after a long winter.
It could snow tomorrow (it's supposed to rain) and by this time of the long winter my stores of patience are giving way to cabin fever. But I'd still prefer--and that's why I'd prefer--to think of this full moon as the First Full Moon of Spring.