The Cove: Matt Shutta
I’ve come to believe that the first six decades of childhood to be the hardest.
We get taller, we get wider, we grow up, we grow out, and yet for many of us there still is a child within knocking to get out.
Our hearts grow old, our joints grow old, our feet hurt, our fingers ache, and metal and plastic become parts of us.
We have glasses on our nose to read, speakers in our ear to hear, walkers to walk, handles to hold onto, jars for our teeth and pill cases labeled with days of the week.
And yet we still eat cotton candy and smile at puppies, cry watching the Hallmark Channel, lick the spoon in the frosting bowl, and plant flowers in the Spring.
I’ve come to believe that the soul we speak of within is actually the childhood memories we cherish and that child who sometimes knocks to get out but who has remained within and who whispers to us for all the decades of our life.
Be we tall, be we wide, be we grow out, be we grow up, be we made with plastic and metal parts, be we have speakers in our ears and our teeth in a jar, we have a soul, and that soul is simply, the child we were who still sees wonder wherever they look, and who still believes in magic.
And who still whispers that to us.
“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”
It is supposedly, Spring.
All my weather apps call for “Partly Cloudy, Feels Like 52-degrees.”
All my weather apps, are wrong.
It is 40 degrees, with wind gusts about that to match. There are dark clouds above me and white caps on the water in front of me.
I am standing next to Matt Shutta who is telling me that the area of The Cove that we are standing in is being protected from the wind, as I turn to look at him with bewilderment I have to keep one hand on my backwards baseball cap so it won’t get blown off in this protected from the wind spot.
This is our third, possibly 4thstop if you count the maybe trespassing we just did, place we are looking to see if we can fish here on the West Bank of the Connecticut River just outside Tuners Falls, Massachusetts.
“This should work, we just need to take that trail down there to a spot on the river.”
“I don’t do trails Matt,” said while wondering why he didn’t pick up on my numerous quotes about how I really don’t like being inside the outside, and certainly prefer pavement or those airport moving walkway things to…TRAILS.
“I’m not much of a fan of walking either, Matt,” who just looks at me, and smiles.
“Come on it’s just right here,” and then he inexplicably STARTS WALKING DOWN A TRAIL
…and he keeps walking…
…AND WALKING ON A *#+#@ TRAIL…
…until it FINALLY ends…and yeah that’s a “db’s actually walking on a trail” smile, er, won’t happen again, um, until I have to walk back out on a #%@* trail.
There is a man walking in the footsteps of his childhood.
“When I was a kid my dad and I would come down here, pretty much right here at this rocky beach, he would fish and I would pick up the small flat rocks and skip them across the water…didn’t help his fishing much.”
Matt Shutta is now 33 years old, recently married (2016) to Jess, have a baby girl 1 1/2 year old Evelyn, works full-time as a Quality Inspector, is a trained Draftsman who used to design loudspeakers for Stadiums….
…like this one in Orchard Park, NY for the Buffalo Bills…GO BILLS! (I did promise Matt though that I would say he is a 49’ers fan which I said I would because it’s the ‘Niners and not the Patriots whom I wouldn’t mention).
Matt has lived in these parts of Massachusetts, about 2 hours Northwest of downtown Boston, all of his life and has fished The Cove of the West Branch of the Connecticut River near the town of Turners Falls.
Matt has fished here since he was four or five but archeologists have found evidence in the region that people have been settled here and on the banks of the river going back some 10,000 years or more.
Matt settled in on the banks here in 1980 or there-a-bouts.
“My father, Joe, worked in the paper mill up there by the dam…”
Up there by the dam is in the town of Turners Falls, you can see the steeple in town from our spot in The Cove. “I still fish with my father,” he says smiling and this is I assume why…
…classic, CLASSIC father/son photograph. I’ll give Matt the stage here for a moment, his exact words as he wrote them to me concerning these next two photos:
“This is where I come to hit the reset button, it always brings back great memories here, memories of the fish I caught but more importantly memories of those I stood with here over the years and fished with, my father, my brother, my girlfriend who is now my wife, and someday I’ll be standing here with my daughter…imagine that.”
It is from water that all life on this planet can trace back from which we came. And as such it nourishes us both physically, and mentally: “It helps me, this place, to maintain a positive mental attitude, no matter how down or crappy I feel I can come here and walk away in a better frame of mind.”
Then, this: “You know db it’s the little things in life that bring you joy, the little things.”
It is the little things like a light cast thrown into a heavy wind from your favorite fishing spot.
It is the little things you see like a…
…driftwood stump that now cradles thousand year old stones.
It’s the little things like…
…a bald Eagle gliding effortlessly in the cold gray sky.
And so on this cold, gray and windy day on a river that’s been here for ages, turns out I ventured down two paths, the one in the woods which lead me to Matt’s childhood, and the path that took me to Matt’s today, one of peace, one of family, both the old and the new, so it is to Massachusetts, both old and new, that I say…
…thank you for the invite to stand on the shores of one of your ponds and one of your majestic rivers.
And to all those in the Bay State I offer you this simple pleasure, this simple little thing:
May you all find The Cove in your life that gives you cherished memories, that brings you love…
db, bb & riley too.